Denmark to increase checks on under-age cigarette sales

Checks on sales of tobacco products to minors will become the mandate of a government agency after the government said control had not been good enough.

Denmark to increase checks on under-age cigarette sales
Cigarettes on sale in Denmark in 2011. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

The Danish Safety Technology Authority (Sikkerhedsstyrelsen) will become responsible for ensuring stores do not sell cigarettes to minors, newspaper Politiken reports.

“We have found that the enforcement of rules, particularly with regard to tobacco, but also alcohol and over-the-counter medicines, has simply not been good enough,” Minister for Health Ellen Trane Nørby told the newspaper.

Police are currently responsible for enforcing compliance with the sales laws.

In 2016, only two fines were issued for illegal tobacco sales to minors.

The government has now decided to move responsibility to its own agency, citing the other and important tasks which police must prioritise, Politiken reports.

Denmark's government has in the past stated its target to achieve a ‘smoke-free generation’ by 2030. But it has also been criticised for a lack of tangible initiatives to that end.

“The government’s strong signal to retailers is that rules on age-specified sales must be kept.

“If they are not obeyed, there will be consequences in the form of fines. We think that retailers should fulfil their responsibilities,” Nørby told Politiken.

Danish law forbids tobacco to be sold to persons under the age of 18. But Politiken reports that a test carried out on its behalf showed that many stores sell the product to people under that age.

The decision could mean extra responsibility for staff with the government agency who are already tasked with visiting retailers to check rules are not being broken, Nørby said.

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