29 March 2004
AMSTERDAM — Ten percent of tobacco retailers breach the ban on selling cigarettes to children under the age of 16, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) said.
The VWA said in the first two months of this year, 1,250 inspections resulted in 120 retailers being fined of issued with a warning for breaching the nation’s tobacco laws.
As part of a series of anti-smoking measures, it has been banned in the Netherlands since 1 January 2003 to sell cigarettes to children and the VWA decided to put cafés, service stations, supermarkets and snack bars to the test.
But the central bureau for supermarkets CBL said it has “strong suspicions” that VWA inspectors recruited young people to catch supermarkets red handed in illegal sales of cigarettes and alcohol. It also claimed that inspectors issued false ID to the youths.
The VWA denied the allegations, but said several “fake inspectors” had tried to swindle retailers into paying illegal fines several months ago. To prevent repeat incidents, the VWA has agreed to better inform retailers how inspectors must identify themselves.
Shop staff can lodge reports with a special bureau if they suspect the inspection is illegal, newspaper Het Parool reported on Monday.
The Netherlands clamped down in recent years against tobacco, banning tobacco billboard advertising and sponsorship in 2002 and stipulating that all workplaces must be smoke free from 1 January 2004. Hotels, cafés and restaurants were granted a temporary exemption.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news