Staff rewarded for enforcing the law

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SHOP staff across the city have been recognised for their efforts in helping discourage underage smoking in Sunderland.

The Responsible Retailer Awards saw recipients invited into the Mayor’s Parlour to receive their certificates from the Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Norma Wright.

The awards have been running for nine years, rewarding shop owners and staff who work hard to ensure that tobacco products, mostly cigarettes, are not sold to those under the legal age.

Coun Dave Allan, Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “These awards are our way of recognising and rewarding the contribution shops make to help us enforce the laws which prevent children from being able to access tobacco and begin smoking.

“It can be difficult for retailers to be sure of the age of youngsters trying to buy cigarettes at the counter, so we try to give them and their staff the training they need to cope and provide them with guidance and advice.”

Penalties for selling age-restricted products to underage customers include a fine of up to £2,500.

One of this year’s winners was the Spar store in Ewesley Road.

Shop manager Deborah Golightly added: “These awards are a valuable way of raising public awareness that retailers are doing everything we can to work with Trading Standards to ensure cigarettes aren’t sold to underage customers.

“The awards are also important because they tell everyone that your shop is upholding age-restricted sales which discourages others from coming in to try and buy cigarettes or hanging about outside which is good for all our customers.”

Other stores recognised include Sainsbury’s in Blind Lane, Silksworth; Tesco in The Bridges; nine Co-op stores; three Spars shops; and Somerfield in North Moor Road.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho