Bar prosecuted for under-age tobacco sales

A Shoreditch bar has been prosecuted for selling cigarettes to a 15-year-old, following an investigation by Hackney Council’s Trading Standards department.

Barworks (Hoxton) Ltd, owners of the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen in Hoxton Square, N1, pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates Court on 2 June 2009 to selling a packet of cigarettes to a 15 year-old. The company was fined £800, with costs of £1069.

The bar was caught through a test purchase, regularly carried out by Trading Standards officers to check whether local businesses are breaking the law on selling restricted items to minors. By law, you must be 18 years old or over to buy cigarettes.

In August last year, a 15 year-old-boy was able to buy a packet of cigarettes from Hoxton Bar and Kitchen. Staff had not been given training on selling tobacco, although some training had been given on the selling of alcohol.

The Council encourages bars and shops to use Challenge 21 – automatically asking anyone attempting to buy restricted products who looks 21 or younger to show photographic identification proving their age.

District Judge Oon said Hackney Council should be applauded for taking the case to court. She was impressed with the steps Barworks had taken since the test purchase to prevent under-age sales, including a till which bleeps when a tobacco sale takes place, reminding staff that questions need to be asked to ensure the purchaser is over 18.

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The law is there to protect young people. The Council makes regular checks and we will prosecute those who are flouting the law.”

Businesses who sell tobacco and other restricted products, such as knives, can get an advice pack from the Council’s Trading Standards team on 020 8356 4929.