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Age restricted products

We enforce the laws which cover the sale of certain goods to people who are too young to buy them.

We carry out regular "test purchasing" exercises using volunteers aged about 15. These volunteers will try to buy alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks or similar, and if they are successful then the retailer may be cautioned or prosecuted and could have the premises' licence reviewed.

More specific advice can be found on the Business Companion website (opens in a new window) in the "In-depth Guides".

How to be a responsible retailer

Putting some or all of these measures in place will help you to demonstrate that you are taking "all reasonable precautions and exercising all due diligence." This is what the courts would look at if a sale takes place. What is "reasonable" will be different for a small business than a large national chain.

  • a policy of "no proof of age - no sale" is now a requirement. You may choose the age according to the problems you have in your premises. Some stores choose "Challenge 21" others choose older ages
  • only accept proof of age if it has a holographic PASS logo or is a passport or photo driving licence
  • all staff must understand the law in these areas. They will need training to help them and should be done regularly. New staff must be trained before being involved in the sale of age restricted products
  • keep a record of any training or updates
  • keep a refusal or challenge register. This is a record of any refused sales or challenges made and the name of staff involved. It shows diligence. It can also put off young people from trying to buy. Refusal sheets are available from us. The management of the business should regularly monitor the register to ensure that all staff are challenging appropriately
  • bring in a policy of not selling to anyone wearing a school uniform
  • don't sell to anyone you think may be buying for someone under age. You are able to do this even if they are old enough to buy
  • make sure that senior staff and managers support staff who refuse a sale
  • use till prompts at the point of sale. This can be a scanned bar code message, stickers or posters
  • owners / managers / area managers must regularly check that signs are displayed, make sure the training records and refusals logs are maintained, and support staff who refuse sales. You may decide to keep records of these checks

Training materials

You can get comprehensive training materials through an online subscription-only package provided by our partners SWERCOTS Ltd. A demonstration is available. (opens in a new window).

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