Firstly, I'm pleased to be asked to write a blog for the Gazette. It's
not often that someone sincerely asks for your opinion and then offers
to help get you heard more widely and loudly! I'm delighted to be
involved and as a member of Brookfield Community Council I already have
a keen interest in all things in and around the Paisley area.

One of the stories that caught my eye this week was the shock results
from the "undercover shop sting" where 90 per cent of shops targeted
broke the law and sold cigarettes to a schoolgirl who was clearly under
age. Whilst we should expect some shop owners to flout the law the fact
that 90 per cent did is ridiculous and a sad reflection on just how
these unscrupulous traders view their responsibilities to our
communities and to the children in those communities.

Just when you believe that we should all be looking out for, and
helping, all children some people clearly have no ethics in this area
and simply don't care nearly enough about the safety, health and
wellbeing of our youngsters. Do these people even deserve the right to
operate a business retailing to the public in these areas? Personally, I
would name and shame the shop owners as well as prosecuting to the full
extent of the law, every time.

The young girl in the test even felt that she would have been able to
buy alcohol just as easily. Then complete with her 10 ciggies and bottle
of "God knows what" she'd be ready to head off the rails, just like many
others. How sad, and how completely avoidable.

Our children are the future, and we all have a moral responsibility to
grow and protect our youth. Happily, most of us are adequately
programmed to do this naturally and as part of our daily lives. Others
however, seem happy to grab a few extra quid profit by repeatedly
breaking the law and selling cigarettes to youngsters. Such traders do
not deserve to be serving our communities and they deserve to be
punished every time. After all, they are breaking the law. Do you want
your kids to succumb to temptation only to find that they can get cigs
and booze easily? Inform trading standards or email Renfrewshire
Council, help protect the youth from unscrupulous shop owners.