Trading Standards - Business Advice

Age Restricted Products

The Isle of Wight Trading Standards Service has a duty to enforce the legislation surrounding the sale of age-restricted products.  These products include alcohol, tobacco, solvents and knives.

See our business guide for Age Restricted Sales - by clicking on the link ‘If in doubt don’t sell’ (PDF, 430.07KB, 16 pages).

Test Purchasing

In order to ascertain whether businesses are complying with the law, the service carries out test purchasing exercises each year.  A test purchasing exercise is where a young person attempts to purchase an age restricted product under our supervision.  When they attempt the purchase, the young person should be asked for identification to prove they are old enough to buy it.

If a business fails a test purchasing exercise

Failing a test purchase can have serious consequences for the individual that made the sale as well as the business.  The individual or/and the business could be prosecuted or have their licence reviewed.

What you can do:      

  • Ensure that your staff are fully trained so that they are aware of the legal requirements. Training should be recorded and updated regularly.
  • Use the Challenge 21 concept.  This is when staff ask anyone they believe to be 21 or under for identification.  It makes it easier to judge age and there is less risk of making an underage sale.  Some premises choose to adopt Challenge 25 or even Challenge 30.      
  • Help staff by providing a reminder on the till to ensure the potential purchaser is old enough.     
  • Ensure your staff are supervised. Make sure that a senior member of staff is always available if a problem situation arises.     
  • Keep a refusals register – this shows that you are aware of attempted underage sales and could form an important part of your defence if you face prosecution.     
  • Only accept a passport, driving licence or card with the PASS logo as identification and examine it closely.        
  • Use CCTV cameras to spot potential problems early.


Help for Retailers

We work closely with other agencies such as Licensing colleagues and the Police to combat underage drinking. 


Tobacco Display Ban

  • The tobacco could be hidden by a curtain, sliding doors, shutters or over the counter units.         
  • Apart from during a sale of tobacco, the display can only be visible for restocking, maintenance, cleaning, training or if a customer asks for information about a product.
  • Non-compliance with this law is a criminal offence. Any person, including shop managers and shop assistants, found guilty of these offences is liable on summary conviction in a magistrates' court to a fine not exceeding level 5 (£5,000 at the time of publication) on the standard scale, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both or on conviction on indictment in the Crown Court to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, a fine or both.
  • Price lists must be in black Helvetica font (no larger than size 30).  There must be no italics or other distinguishing emphasis.  It must be titled 'Tobacco Products Price List’ and be of A3 size.  There must only be one.
  • Download the English Tobacco Display Draft Amending Regulations (PDF, 19.37KB, 4 pages).


Tobacco Vending Machines

From 1 October 2011, it is illegal to sell cigarettes (or any other tobacco product) from an automatic vending machine in England to any person, regardless of their age. It will also be against the law to display advertisements or pictures of tobacco products on vending machines. The current exemption allowing advertisements on vending machines will no longer apply.  For more information visit GOV.UK website.

View frequently asked questions (FAQs) for Tobacco Vending Machines (PDF, 25.68KB, 6 pages).

Please note: If you require specific advice on this subject, please contact the Trading Standards Service for further assistance.