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32% of retailers caught selling cigarettes to buyers in school uniform

05/31/2023 06:39 PM
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A prop cigarette is used during a press conference held by parents and civic groups to call for amending the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act in Taipei on Jan. 5, 2022. CNA file photo
A prop cigarette is used during a press conference held by parents and civic groups to call for amending the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act in Taipei on Jan. 5, 2022. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) Some 32 percent of retailers in Taiwan were caught selling cigarettes to buyers wearing school uniforms last year, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said Wednesday.

According to the HPA, out of 663 convenience stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and betel nut stalls surveyed by the Consumers' Foundation, Chinese Taipei between April and October 2022, nearly a third sold cigarettes to undercover buyers dressed in school uniforms without checking their IDs.

The HPA said that betel nut vendors were the least likely to perform age verification, with the foundation's undercover buyers able to purchase cigarettes from 42.4 percent of stalls.

Of the other types of retailers, undercover buyers were able to purchase cigarettes from 40.3 percent of grocery stores, 26.6 percent of supermarkets or hypermarkets, and 18.8 percent of convenience stores.

Among convenience stores, 30 percent of Hi-Life International Co. stores, 27.2 percent of OK Marts, 16.7 percent of 7-11 stores and 16 percent of FamilyMarts sold cigarettes to undercover buyers.

In terms of supermarkets and hypermarkets, local agricultural and fishermen's associations were the worst for checking IDs, with 35.7 percent of these associations selling cigarettes to undercover buyers, ahead of PXMart (32.4 percent) and Carrefour outlets (25 percent).

The HPA commissioned the survey ahead of the introduction of amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act, raising the legal age for cigarettes from 18 to 20.

Under the new rules, which took effect on March 22 this year, retailers caught selling tobacco products to those under the age of 20 will receive fines of between NT$10,000-NT$250,000.

HPA statistics show that local authorities conducted 250,000 checks in 2022, while 119 retailers were caught selling cigarettes to under-18s, receiving fines totaling NT$1.09 million (US$35,620).

(By Flor Wang and Shen Pei-yao)

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