Cigarette Packet

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.

Tobacco products

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.

National Lottery

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.

Intoxicating substances

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.

Offensive weapons 

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.

Online toolkit

No Proof of Age – No Sale is an interactive online toolkit for businesses that sell age restricted goods or services. The toolkit is maintained by Trading Standards South West and contains current and upcoming legislation that may affect your business. 

The toolkit gives managers and employees guidance on the prevention of illegal sales of age restricted goods and services. This includes a learning management system for employees (including training modules and testing) and a wide range of posters and leaflets. Visit their website 

Bath & North East Somerset Council are subscribed to No Proof of Age – No Sale so the toolkit is provided free of charge to local businesses with under 10 branches or 100 employees.

Report a business

To report a trader you suspect may be selling age restricted goods to children, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133, or visit their website

Illustration: Dermot McGuckin

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