Age Restricted Products

We have a duty to enforce the legislation surrounding the sale of age-restricted products. These products include alcohol, tobacco, solvents and knives.

Download our business guide for Age Restricted Sales: If in doubt don’t sell (PDF, 430.07KB, 16 pages).

Test Purchasing

In order to find out 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

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

What you can do:

  • ensure your staff are fully trained so they are aware of the legal requirements. Training should be recorded and updated regularly
  • have an Age Verification Policy in place, we recommend either Challenge 21 or Challenge 25
  • 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 to shows 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 (£5,000.00 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).