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Council using undercover teens to catch businesses selling cigarettes to minors

A council in Melbourne’s west is paying teenagers to buy cigarettes as part of an operation to catch businesses illegally selling tobacco to minors.

Wyndham City Council has caught ten businesses illegally selling tobacco to minors through the operation in the past year.

Each shop was fined $645 for the offence.

Under the program the teenagers attempt to buy cigarettes at retailers without producing identification.

If a retailer asks the teenagers how old they are they must tell the truth and produce identification if asked.

Stephen Thorpe, Director of City Operations for Wyndham City Council, said the scheme is only trying to catch those doing the wrong thing.

“There’s no attempt to try and trick people, provided they’re doing the right thing,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

Mr Thorpe said sellers, not buyers, of tobacco products are responsible for ensuring purchasers are over 18.

“The onus is on the person selling them to make sure that the person buying them is 18 years of age or over,” he said.

Wyndham City Council is not the only council which runs the program.

“It’s a program that all councils run,” Mr Thorpe said.

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