Selling tobacco comes with a clear responsibility, the products are not to be sold to people under the age of 18 years. The 1991 Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act allows only one defence, that is due diligence. Failure to take this responsibility with sufficient seriousness is likely bring the retailer into conflict with their local Trading Standards.

Winner of the 2011 IAA Responsible Retailing, Shahid Razzaq says ‘retailers must have a policy and train their staff to ensure they are 100% correct when they sell tobacco and other age restricted products.’

The Keighley News has recently reported what has happened to one retailer that sold cigarettes to a 15 year old. The key comment from West Yorkshire Trading Standards is that shopkeepers who knowingly sell cigarettes to children have been warned they will be prosecuted.

The vast majority of tobacco retailers do take their legal responsibilities very seriously and are supported by the manufactures. JTI are sponsors of the Responsible Retailer award for the Independent Achievers Academy and their Communication Manager, Melanie Mills,  says  “Responsible retailing starts with understanding and applying the law in the area of age related products with reputation reliant on strictly enforcing youth access prevention measures. The advice is simple: you are only as strong as your weakest member of staff and their rigorous approach to asking for proof of age. JTI is committed the ‘No ID No Sale’ campaign, designed to help retailers prevent underage sales, and provides online support with advice and training available at”


Ways to protect yourself:

  1. Train staff and record the fact and get staff to sign the record.
  2. Regularly give staff refresher training and record the fact.
  3. Don’t try a guess a customers age, see proof of age.
  4. Use Challenge 25 to give a good cushion for estimating age.
  5. Record all refused sales.
  6. Review age issues regularly with your employees.
  7. Keep records.