In the 15 July issue we included excerpts from Subhash Varambhia’s open letter from Snutch Newsagents in Leicester, criticising the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme for not taking his store off Serve Legal’s mystery shopping list following an earlier request to do so.

The programme asked if it could respond. Fair dues.

A representative said: “We apologise that Snutch Newsagents in Leicester received a second visit from Serve Legal after the owner had requested to be removed from the programme. This was an error, which has now been investigated and we have taken steps to ensure this will not happen again, either for Snutch Newsagents or any other retailer who wishes to be removed from the programme.

“The primary aim of the Responsible Tobacco Retailing programme is to reduce youth access to tobacco - an issue which all involved parties are in agreement must be tackled. We use test purchasers who are over 18 to ensure no retailers break the law. However, as outlined in Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 guidelines, it is best practice for retailers to request ID from customers who look younger than these ages.

“We are by no means trying to catch out retailers, or to use this exercise for commercial gain; we simply want to identify those retailers who may be at risk of selling tobacco and other age-restricted products to children and provide free, accredited training and support. Within the first year of the programme, we have already seen over a 19% improvement from retailers and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from those involved in the programme.”