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Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has announced the launch of an enhanced youth access prevention programme targeting under-performing areas across the UK. The scheme is an extension to the previous 3-year national Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme that JTI supported between 2015 and 2018.

The programme is designed to identify retailers who may be at risk of selling tobacco products to under-18s, and then to offer those retailers free-of-charge professional training provided by fully qualified former Trading Standards officers.

In a change to the previous scheme, any retailers assessed as “At Risk” four times in a row will be notified to the relevant law enforcement agencies for further follow up, said a statement from the firm. The premises are identified as being “At Risk” if a sale takes place without the young person being challenged for ID during a test purchasing.

The local authority areas selected all have the highest proportion of premises identified as “At Risk” of selling tobacco products to under-18s in the previous three years’ work and/or the highest teenage smoking prevalence rates.

“The aim of the Responsible Tobacco Retailing scheme is to tackle the problem of underage sales by providing training and support for retailers in this area. This enhanced Programme demonstrates JTI’s continued commitment to playing a full role in youth smoking prevention,” said Charlie Cunningham-Reid, Head of Corporate Affairs at JTI.

This enhanced programme has been developed in partnership with Serve Legal, a leading provider in testing compliance on sales of age restricted products, and Under Age Sales, a nationally recognised training company who offers specialist advice to retailers about how to avoid illegal sales to children and young people.

The programme will be rolled out at Blackpool, Tameside, Manchester, Kirklees and West Lothian in 2018; Gateshead, Sunderland, Hartlepool,Scarborough, Stoke-on-Trent, Worcester and Oxford in 2019 and Torbay, Cornwall, Southampton, Brighton, East Sussex and L.B. Richmond in 2020.