SHOPS in Northern Ireland remain the main source of supplying cigarettes to under-18s, the Assembly was told as the Tobacco Retailers Bill, which aims to restrict the sale of cigarettes to young people, reached its final stage.
The legislation creates a register of traders and introduces a series of steps – including fines – to deal with persistent offenders.
And apart from targeting tobacco retailers who break the law by selling cigarettes to under-18s, it also includes powers to deal with proxy purchasing. It also targets adults who buy tobacco products on behalf of children.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said the final goal would be a further reduction in the number of young people who smoke by restricting the availability of cigarettes to them.
"The evidence shows that shops continue to be the main source of tobacco for under-18s," he said.
"This Bill will help reduce the number of young people taking up smoking and will ultimately help to save lives in Northern Ireland."