Wales Heads of Trading Standards

Improving Trading Standards in Wales

Penaethiaid Safonau Masnach Cymru Yn Gwella Safonau Masnach Yng Nghymru

Underage sales

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What are age restricted products?

As a result of the adverse effects they can have on health and well-being, the supply of a wide range of products to young people is prohibited. These goods are often called age-restricted products, and the term ‘under-age sales’ is commonly used to describe their illegal supply to young persons.
This pack gives guidance on the law relating to the following age restricted products:

Who should read this guidance pack?

This pack has been produced for anyone whose business involves the sale or other supply of any of the above products, and anyone employed in such a business.

Are underage sales really such a problem?

Very much so. A recent all-Wales survey suggests that illegal sales are increasing, with 30% of retailers visited selling alcohol to children, 22% selling cigarettes and 6% selling fireworks.
Apart from the legal consequences for the retailer, underage sales can have a real effect on the health of the nation’s children. Bear in mind the following statistics:

  • 450 children start smoking in Great Britain every day
  • 22% of 15 year olds are regular smokers
  • 80% of today’s smokers took up the habit as teenagers
  • On average, teenagers drink 4 pints of beer a week
  • 58% of the people injured by fireworks last year were under the legal age of purchase, of 18 years.

How is the law enforced?

The Trading Standards Service is committed to reducing the number of illegal sales, and seeks to do this by working with businesses, offering advice and guidance, investigating complaints, and by conducting test purchase exercises with young volunteers in order to assess the level of compliance. In such cases, volunteers follow strict national guidelines to ensure fairness.

Trading Standards Officers and the Police enforce jointly the law prohibiting sales of alcohol to children.

How can I prevent underage sales being made?

You should read the information sheets enclosed. This pack provides practical guidance on how businesses can avoid making illegal sales. You should read and follow the advice given in the Preventing underage sales section of this pack.

To assist businesses in preventing illegal sales being made, the following are also included in the pack:

  • Point of Sale Information - English (PDF 49KB) or  Cymraeg (PDF 126KB) - gives the minimum legal ages for purchase. It should be displayed at or near the till 
  • Refusals Record (PDF 118KB) - which can be used as the basis of a refusals register
  • Refusals Slips (PDF 125KB) - providing an explanation for customers you refuse to serve
  • Posters (PDF 152KB) - for the information of employees and customers
  • Employee Training Log Sheet (PDF 141KB) - to record training / information given to staff

Where can I get further information or advice?

If after reading this guidance pack you have any further queries or require any additional guidance, please contact your local Trading Standards Service.

How can I report other outlets selling age restricted goods to children?

It is frustrating for law abiding businesses to see others apparently flouting the law.  If you believe that underage sales are occurring at other outlets, you can report the matter to us quickly and anonymously) by either contacting Consumer Direct Wales on 08454 040506 or by sending the information on-line via the Consumer Direct Website 'Contact Us' page by clicking here.  *If you wish to remain anonymous and report an underage sale online, for the mandatory name fields of the form enter your prefix (ie Mr, Mrs, etc), your name as 'anon' and the town where you live.
By providing the necessary information (ie shop name, location, when the sale took place, etc) the information will then be passed to the relevant Trading Standards Service within Wales to look into.

The No Proof No Sale pack was created by the Trading Standards Service of Caerphilly County Borough Council, and has been recognised nationally as an example of good practice in providing practical and legal guidance to the trade in the area of underage sales.  It is made available here for the benefit of the trade throughout Wales, with the kind permission of Caerphilly County Borough Council.


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