Under-age smokers no longer need to have much disguise in order to buy cigarettes nowadays. A survey found that many retailers, such as newsstand, convenience store or small stores can satisfy their needs. Underage is not an obstacle or a barrier anymore and that encourages teens to try smoking.
Six teenagers, age fifteen to seventeen, were sent to convenience stores, small stores and supermarkets located to Hong Kong and found that more than 86 per cent of outlets sold cigarettes to them.
The main reason behind is that when other outlets are doing this kind of business, the ones who don’t do seemed conventional and obsolete, and they lose customers too. A shopkeeper said that even they don’t sell the cigarettes to under-age smokers; they can just easily cross the street and visit another small stores or convenience store and could buy the cigarettes the wanted. This is due to the densely located stores and the competitiveness that has caused this phenomenon to happen.
It is found that before the law, which was about refraining smokers to smoke indoors and in parks, has began to be implemented, adults or even under-ages, would like to show their defiance and went to try smoking. This explains why the packages of cigarettes sold out didn’t decrease but increased.
Meanwhile, some shopkeepers remonstrated about the blind spot in the law prohibiting stores to sell cigarettes to under-age smokers, but didn’t admonish teenagers to buy them. This ambiguous law let under-age smoking to continue in Hong Kong.
However, this is the biggest problem the shopkeepers have found while selling cigarettes to younger people—their appearance. They said that while some teenagers’ appearance isn’t similar to that of an adult’s, some do. It is hard to judge whether they are under-age smokers or not. Moreover, the owners of small stores or newsstands don’t have the right to ask for the consumers’ identity documents.
The few improvements that the government should be capable of doing is to send more people from the Tobacco Control Office to enforce the law, give shopkeepers the right to search and ask for the consumers’ identity documents, urge all shops to co-operate and maybe increase the punishment for those who violates the law and hope the seller and consumers will be aware of their habit and be vigilant to stay away from these temptations