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Action Against Underage Sales
Friday 29th January, 2010

Two local shopkeepers have been in court for selling cigarettes to children following test purchases by volunteers working with council officers.

16 year old girls, acting on behalf of trading standards officers, attempted to buy cigarettes from 17 local shops during a two day operation in November 2009. In total the girls were able to make 6 purchases which officers then sought prosecutions over. And this week, the first court results were announced.

Bharat Patel of M&V Stores on Gloucester Street in Atherton and Balvinder Kaur Singh of Premier Discount on Sandy Lane in Hindley were each fined £200 and were ordered to pay £390 costs for the sale of cigarettes to the 16 year old volunteer.

The council’s cabinet champion for licensing, Cllr Paul Prescott, says: “Selling cigarettes to children is absolutely unacceptable. I hope these two court cases send a strong message to all retailers. We are continuing to work with shop owners but where the law is being broken, we will seek prosecutions.”

The premises visited were selected as a result of previous underage sales or from complaints received. M&V Stores in Atherton had been warned after previous sale made from the shop in January 2008.

Chief Trading Standards Officer Julie Middlehurst adds: “These are the first cases of several we are currently acting against. Most businesses are very supportive and are keen to be good partners with us on issues of licensing and retail laws, but we will always take a hard line with shops - or anyone else – continuing to sell children cigarettes.”

Anyone with information on underage sales should ring Consumer Direct 08454 040506.

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