Businesses in Bolton are being urged to heed new laws on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco.
From October 1, it will be illegal to sell tobacco products directly to the public from a vending machine.
It will also be against the law to display advertisements or pictures of tobacco products on vending machines.
Many pubs, clubs and restaurants in Bolton have vending machines which sell cigarettes to customers.
Letters have been sent to all these businesses in the run up to the October 1 deadline and owners and managers of premises are being encouraged to make the necessary changes or risk prosecution.
The legislation is being introduced as part of the Government’s commitment to reducing smoking in line with the White Paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in March 2011.
The council’s trading standards department is responsible for monitoring compliance of the legislation and is adopting an educational and advisory approach similar to when the smoking ban was introduced in 2007.
The letters and accompanying guidance notes will be followed up with a visit by trading standards officers if a business fails to follow the new legislation.
Any premises failing to make serious efforts to comply with the law could face a fine of up to £2,500 for selling tobacco from a vending machine and up to £5,000 or even up to six month’s imprisonment if found guilty of advertising tobacco products on vending machines.
Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing and Skills, Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, said: “There are clearly very serious consequences for business owners who fail to comply with this new legislation, so I would advise them to work with trading standards officers and make the necessary preparations for October 1.
“The trading standards team is there to answer any questions and help businesses comply with this law. If anyone requires further information about the legislation they can contact the department on 01204 336586.”