Friday 23 February 2018

One of Ireland's best known pubs fined for selling cigarettes to minor

The Red Cow Inn
The Red Cow Inn

Tom Tuite

The Red Cow Inn, one of Ireland’s best known pubs, has been fined €2,000 for selling cigarettes to a minor during an undercover test purchase.

T & S Taverns t/a Red Cow Inn was prosecuted at Dublin District Court on Monday by the Health Service Executive (HSE) which had sent an environmental health inspector and a 15-year-old test buyer to the pub on July 28 last year. It was also ordered to pay €1,000 in prosecution costs.

Prosecuting solicitor Shane Reynolds told Judge John Brennan that T & S Taverns had been served with a summons, however, there was no appearance by the defendant. He said the prosecution was in a position to proceed and the test purchaser, who was a minor, was present.

The charge was under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act for selling cigarettes to a person under the age of 18, the court was told. Judge Brennan said the case should go ahead.

Environmental Health Officer Andrew Byrne agreed with Mr Reynolds that letters were sent out to a number of premises outlining that test purchases would be carried out.

Mr Byrne said premises with cigarette vending machines operated by discs were targeted. A purchaser had to ask a member of staff for a disc to use the cigarette vending machine, the court heard.

He told the court that on July 28 he and the schoolboy test purchaser went to the pub. Mr Byrne said he ordered a drink at the bar. While the member of bar staff went to get it the teen approached the bar and another member of staff from the food counter came over to serve him.

The teen asked her for a token for the cigarette vending machine and she gave one to him, Mr Byrne said. He also her a €10 and asked her to give him change for the vending machine.

She asked him his age and he told her he was 15, the court was told. The pub worker asked him if the cigarettes were for him and he replied that they were and the member of staff then went about her business, Judge Brennan heard.

The environmental health officer said he watched the test buyer teen place the token and coins into the vending machine and he got a packet of John Player Blue. The teen then left and Mr Byrne approached the staff member and identified himself. He told her a test purchase had been carried out and she told him she did not know the legal age for selling cigarettes. A letter was later sent to the pub advising them that a legal action would follow.

Mr Reynolds, for the HSE, told the court the offence can result in a maximum fine of €3,000 and an order banning the sale of tobacco products for three months.

Judge Brennan said the pub had no prior convictions but he noted that the defendant not come to court and the individual staff member had been unaware of the law. There had been a failure in training the staff, he said.

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