Sales of a variety of goods are 'age restricted'.
Trading standards officers carry out projects using underage volunteers to ensure that goods are not sold to anyone under the age limit.
It is an offence to sell cigarettes and tobacco products, including herbal cigarettes and cigarette papers, to a person under 18. Traders should also ensure that warning notices are prominently displayed and take precautions to prevent vending machines being used by young people who have not yet reached the age to purchase such products.
Alcohol must not be sold to anyone under 18. A person under 18, working at premise which is licensed to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises (e.g. off license, supermarket), cannot sell alcohol unless the sale has been approved by a person over 18. It is an offence for an adult i.e. an over 18 to purchase alcohol 'on behalf' of an under 18. A further offence is committed by under 18's who attempt to buy alcohol.
It is an offence to sell a ticket or instant scratchcard to a person under 16. It is also an offence for a person under 16 to sell a National Lottery ticket.
Gas cigarette lighter refills must not be sold to anyone under 18. solvents etc, must not be sold to a person under 18 if it is considered that the product is likely to be inhaled to achieve intoxication.
Fireworks, including sparklers, must not be sold to a person apparently under 18. It is an offence to sell party poppers, toy caps, serpents, throwdowns, novelty matches and cracker snaps to a person apparently under 16.
Petrol must not be sold to a person under 16. It is also an offence for a person under 16, to sell petrol and a person under 18 must not be left in charge of a petrol station.
Certain types of knives and articles with blades or points must not be sold to a person under 18.
Videos and computer games
It is an offence to supply a person who has not attained the age indicated on the label, which may be 12, 15 or 18.
A trader must take all reasonable precautions to ensure that neither themselves nor their staff sell these age restricted goods to anyone who has not reached the specified age. If in doubt, and the person cannot provide a legitimate proof of their age, our advice is to refuse to sell the goods to them. If it is suspected that someone over the legally required age is purchasing the goods on behalf of someone who is underage, you should consider whether it is appropriate to sell the goods to them. Remember that you do not have to sell to a customer if you do not wish to do so.
If you would like to report a trader you suspect may be selling age restricted goods to children please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.
If you are in business and would like advice on steps you can take to comply with the laws relating to age restricted goods please contact us using the details listed under 'Contact information' on the left.
Illustration: Dermot McGuckin