ALMOST 29 percent of 411 sellers inspected by Slovak Trade Inspection (SOI) were willing to sell cigarettes to people under 18. In comparison with 2013 survey, this is a decrease by 13 percent.

The inspection lasted for two weeks from July 14 to August 1; inspectors checked 411 places, including chain stores, small sellers such as news stands, tobacco stalls, gas stations and grocery stores. Those who sold cigarettes to youths between 16 and 17 received a fine of €1,000 and those who sold them to children between 11 and 15 were fined €1,500.

However, while the total number is decreasing, the number of cases when sellers sold cigarettes to children aged 11-15 has dramatically increased, Nadežda Machútová, the general director of SOI, told the press August 26.

In the age category of 11-15, nearly 58 percent of the sellers broke law, while last year it was just 35 percent in this age category, Machútová said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. She called the results both satisfying and disturbing.

“I cannot understand when someone sells cigarettes to an 11-year-old child,” Machútová said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We are not satisfied [with results] in this case.”

Trnava Region had the worst result, since 45.65 percent of its sellers sold cigarettes
to children between ages 11 and 15. The best results were in Prešov Region, where 20.37 percent did the same. There was no significant difference between big chain stores and small sellers since chains stores violated law in 24 percent of cases and small sellers in 31 percent of cases.

“What totally stunned me is the very unpleasant discovery that chain stores sold cigarettes to the group between 11 and 15 years old in 74 percent of the cases,” Machútová said, as quoted by SITA, “while small sellers just in every second case.”