Trading Standards - Age Restricted Sales
Trading Standards carry out regular checks to ensure traders do not sell age restricted products to underage persons, and operate a Responsible Trader Scheme at assist traders to comply with these laws.
If you have any information about traders who are supplying age restricted products to underage persons you may report it here (external link) through our partner organisation Citizens Advice Consumer Service. All reports will be treated in the strictest confidence and you can remain anonymous if you wish.
Listed below are examples of products whose sale is controlled by age restriction.
You must not sell alcohol to any person under the age of 18 years.
No persons under the age of 18 years can sell alcohol.
It is an offence for you to sell or supply intoxicating liquor to any person under the age of 18 years in premises licensed to sell alcohol. It is an offence for a person (e.g. the licence holder) to allow any of his staff to sell alcohol to a minor in licensed premises. You must ensure that you have taken appropriate measures to satisfy yourself that the buyer is at least 18 years of age. If in any doubt, ask for photo identification as proof of age from young customers as appropriate.
The maximum penalty for either of these offences is a level 3 fine of £5000.
Cigarettes and tobacco based products
It is an offence for you or your staff to sell cigarettes or any tobacco products including cigarette papers to a person under the age of 18 years. It is up to you to decide whether or not that person looks 18 years of age. If in doubt, you should not sell cigarettes or tobacco products to them. You must sell cigarettes in packets of 10 or more and in their original packaging.
You must display a clear A3 size sign where you sell cigarettes stating “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18”.
If you sell cigarettes to any person under the age of 18 years, you could face a fine of up to £2,500.
Cigarettes and tobacco products must be stored out of sight of customers except during a sale.
Fireworks - sparklers, party poppers, caps, cracker snaps
Fireworks and sparklers
You cannot sell fireworks and/or sparklers to anyone under the age of 18 years. You cannot sell fireworks to anyone under that age.
Party poppers / caps / cracker snaps
You cannot sell party poppers, caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, serpents and throw downs to anyone who you feel is, or looks, under the age of 16 years.
Shopkeepers who breach the requirements can be prosecuted in a magistrates court and if found guilty can be fined up to £5000, face a term of imprisonment, or up to 6 months, or both.
Dangerous chemicals - cigarette lighter fuel, glue, aerosols
Cigarette lighter fuel
You must not sell or supply cigarette lighter fuel or any cigarette lighter re-fill canister containing butane, or any other substance containing butane, to any person under the age of 18 years.
The penalty for selling the above to an under age person is up to 6 months imprisonment, or a fine of £5,000, or both.
It is an offence for you to sell or supply any substance to a person under the age of 18 years, or to a person acting on their behalf, knowing, or having reasonable cause to suspect that the substance, or its fumes will be inhaled for the purpose of causing intoxication.
Along with solvent based glue and aerosols these include dry cleaning fluid, correction fluid and thinner, marker pens, ‘cold start’ and anti freeze.
The maximum penalty on summary conviction is up to 6 months imprisonment, or a fine of £5,000, or both.
You must not sell an aerosol paint container (a device which contains paint stored under pressure and which is designed to permit the release of paint as a spray) to anyone under 16.
DVD's, Blu Ray’s and computer games
It is illegal to sell, rent or supply a video work unless it has been given legal classification by British Board of Film classification. (There are some exceptions to this rule for sport, documentary, music or religious works.)
Most computer games are exempt from classification, but some must be classified by the BBFC. For these the same restrictions apply.
The penalty for selling or hiring out a video work which should have been classified but has not been is an unlimited fine and/or up to 2 years imprisonment.
You cannot sell, rent or supply video cassettes or DVDs to any person under the ages of 12, 15 and 18 years unless the material has been classified suitable for that particular age.
Restricted 18 video cassettes and DVDs can be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons 18 years and over.
The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a fine of £20,000, a term of imprisonment of six months, or both.
Dangerous Weapons - air weapons, crossbows, knives
It is an offence for you to sell or supply an air weapon to a person under the age of 18 years, It is also an offence for a person under the age of 18 years to have an air weapon in a public place unless it is securely fastened in a gun cover in such a way that it cannot be fired.
It is an offence to make a gift of an air weapon to a person under 14 years of age.
The penalty for selling or hiring an air weapon to a person under the age of 18 years is up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 or both.
It is an offence for you to sell or hire a crossbow to a person under the age of 18 years. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both.
It is illegal to sell the following items to anyone under 18-years-old:
- Any knife, knife blade or razor blade
- Any axe
- Any article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, and which is made or adapted for causing injury to the person
The prohibition does not apply to:
- A folding pocket knife with a blade of less than three inches (7.62cm); or
- A razor blade permanently held in a cartridge or similar housing where less than 2mm of the blade is exposed
The prohibition is not intended to apply to articles such as scissors or compasses.
The maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both.
Lottery tickets and scratch cards
It is illegal to sell lottery tickets or scratch cards to a person under the age of 16.
It is also illegal for members of staff under the age of 16 to sell lottery tickets or scratch cards.
If you sell lottery or scratch cards to someone under 16 you may be fined up to £5000 and/or serve two years imprisonment.
It is illegal to sell petrol to a person under the age of 16.
No person under the age of 18 years should be left in sole charge of a petrol station.
If you sell petrol to a person under 16 you may be fined up to £5000.
It is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to invite, cause or permit a person under the age of 18 years to gamble
A person committing this offence may be fined up to £5000 or serve up to 51 weeks imprisonment.
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