Age Restricted Products
Age restricted products should not be sold to people below the legal age limit. An example of these products is cigarettes which should not be sold to persons under 18.
Trading Standards carry out test purchasing projects using young people under the age limit to ensure that restricted goods are not being sold to those they shouldn't be.
You can view the Trading Standards Institute (opens new window) website for a list of age restricted products.
Further information on the sale of fireworks can be found on the Fireworks page. Please note, Police Scotland (opens new window) cover the sale of alcohol to persons under 18.
If you suspect young people under the age limit are being sold age restricted products, you can report this anonymously to us by telephoning 01506 280000.
Tobacco and Nicotine Vapour products (NVPs)
Illegal Vaping Products
It has been identified that non-compliant disposable electronic cigarettes are available for sale throughout the UK. These devices are commonly referred to as 'disposable vapes, 'nicotine puffs', or by reference to brand names such as 'Geek Bar Pro'. They may however be marketed under a variety of different brand names.
Some products have been found to present particular safety risks, in that they contain an excessive amount of nicotine which is harmful in continual consumption. The price, design, and the many flavours of these vapes, combined with widespread publicity on social media, make them particularly attractive to young people. It is illegal for non-compliant products to be sold and for compliant products to be sold to those under 18.
Disposable nicotine vapour products must contain no more than 2ml of liquid, the equivalent nicotine in one packet of cigarettes. 2ml of liquid equates to around 600 puffs in a vape product; some of the products available contain more than 1,500 puffs. All e-cigarettes and e-liquids are required to be notified to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency before they can be sold.
These products have been seen in premises in West Lothian and retailers have been contacted and asked to check their stock. Any information regarding non-compliant products can be notified to Trading Standards, email@example.com or Report a Trading Standards Issue Anonymously.
It is an offence under the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 (opens new window) to:
- sell tobacco or NVPs (e.g. e-cigarettes) to persons under 18
- for persons under 18 to attempt to purchase tobacco or NVPs
- for adults to buy tobacco or NVPs on behalf of persons under 18
Trading Standards Officers have powers to issue fixed penalty notices if an offence has been committed.
If you are selling tobacco products and/or NVPs, you must register your details on the Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register (opens new window) . Registration is free.
It is an offence to sell tobacco products/NVPs if you are not properly registered.
Retailers are also required to have an age verification policy in place to check the age of anyone attempting to buy a tobacco product, cigarette papers or an NVP who appears to be under the age of 25. Guidance is available on the Scottish Government website (opens new window) .
Main Retailer Responsibilities
The business owner and staff are responsible for ensuring that no person under the relevant age limit is able to purchase a restricted product.
In order to keep within the law and be able to prove you satisfy the legal defences, retailers must:
- Have effective, regularly reviewed, systems in place, to prevent sales of tobacco products, cigarette papers and NVP's (e-cigarettes, refills etc) to persons under 18 years of age
- Implement a documented age verification policy with respect to checking the age of anyone who appears to be under 25 for all age restricted products.
- Ensure staff receive regular training on age verification, your policies, the law and potential consequences of not complying. Keep signed records of training and a refusals register, making use of any technology available to you (eg. till prompts / CCTV)
- Ensure your premises is correctly registered for the sale of tobacco only, NVP's only or both tobacco and NVP's as appropriate.
- Not split cigarette packs to sell single cigarettes - the minimum pack size is 20
- Only sell cigarettes and tobacco in plain packaging
- Display the statutory A3 size tobacco notice - 'It is illegal to sell...'
If you break the law you could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of up to £200 (increasing for repeat offences). If the FPN is unpaid, legal action may be taken against you. Prosecution could result in a criminal record plus a fine of up to £20,000, 6 months imprisonment (or both).
Further guidance on legal requirements can be found via the Trading Standards Business Companion resource on selling and promotion, Scottish Government and the Scottish Grocers Federation. The last two contain examples of the documentation you will require, as indicated above.
Additional resources, which may be useful for training, and provide access to display materials, including the A3 Statutory Notice, can be found through the following 3rd party campaigns and organisations: Young Scot; Challenge 25; No ID No Sale.
www.noidnosale.com (opens new window) - free retail pack includes the statutory notice, managers pack (you can use this to help to train staff - make sure staff sign the declaration) & other things like window stickers
www.challenge25.org (opens new window) - (mostly aimed toward alcohol) - posters etc. are free to download
Underage Sales Vaping Poster (opens new window) - there may be a cost for this
Guidance is available:
- SGF Guide on the legislative requirements for Tobacco/NVP - Includes Age Verification Policy / Refusals Book / Training Records - download from Scottish Grocers Federation (opens new window)
- General guidance on requirements for tobacco & underage sales - Business Companion (tobacco and NVP guidance) (opens new window)
- Guidance on labelling/advertising/packaging - Business Companion (tobacco advertising and packaging) (opens new window)