Merton council has promised to continue with its campaign against traders illegally selling products to under-age children.

The council has agreed to double their test purchases involving young people in relation to regulating the supply of tobacco to children. The test purchases include videos, solvent, knives and lottery tickets, and will also be used as a follow-up to complaints received.

Currently, local authorities in the UK are not obliged to enforce the law, and, on average, there are just 140 prosecutions a year for illegal sales of tobacco, with low fines – usually between £200 and £800. More than half of secondary school smokers taking part in a recent survey reported no difficulty buying cigarettes. Regular cigarette use, starting in teenage years, gives you a 50/50 chance of dying. Young smokers who give up, avoid virtually all these risks.

Peter Holt, Leader of the Council, said: “It is extremely important to protect children from illegal traders. I am delighted that the authority is taking this issue seriously as the action plan will send a clear signal to traders that they will not be able to break the law.

“The programme has been a great success in the past few years which culminated in a short programme on our work which was televised at the end of September on Channel 4.