In Northern Ireland more teenagers die from sniffing household products than from abuse of all illegal drugs.
Statistics would confirm that Northern Ireland has the highest number of fatalities per head of population in the United Kingdom.
Solvent abuse involves inhaling some household and industrial products to achieve intoxication. Many of these products can be bought in local shops, eg cigarette lighter refills, glues and aerosol sprays.
Down District Council’s Environmental Services Committee Chairman, Eamonn O’Neill commented: “All Butane retailers are reminded that they must ensure that Butane Gas Lighter Refills and all related products are not sold to anyone under the age of 18 years of age. It is the responsibility of retailers to ensure that all staff are well trained to ensure that anyone they suspect is under eighteen is asked to produce legitimate proof of age before selling any tobacco product.
“Down District Council have recently been in contact with a number of Butane retailers in order to ensure all staff are adequately trained and aware of the dangers to selling tobacco products to children.
“Retailers should be aware that Test purchasing will again be taking place in the Council area in the coming weeks and this is an appropriate time to carry out refresher training with all staff members.”
As a proactive measure Down District Council has given a commitment to an education and enforcement programme aimed at raising awareness amongst retailers with regard to the laws concerning the sale of volatile substances and ensuring compliance with the above legislation
Butane gas lighter refills have been identified as a major cause of death of solvent abusers. In order to combat this problem the above Regulations were made. District Councils are responsible for the enforcement of the Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999.
In order to determine the level of compliance with the law, Down District Council will be carrying out random compliance checks of retailers by way of a test purchase exercise. This will involve sending a person under 18 years old into a retail premises to attempt to purchase a butane gas cigarette lighter refill.
Legal proceedings may be instigated against any retailer observed breaking this law. The test purchase exercise will take place over the next three months.