Retailers have welcomed changes to legislation restricting the purchasing of tobacco and nicotine products on behalf of minors, calling it a step forward for responsible retailing.

The new laws come into effect in England and Wales today (October 1). It is now illegal for adults to buy tobacco on behalf of young people – a practice known as proxy purchasing. The law has been in effect in Scotland since 2011.

Jon Powell of The Newsagent in Newport praised the move. “Proxy purchasing goes on. We try our best to spot it but it’s not always easy,” he said.

“If I see someone hanging around outside the shop waiting for an adult to buy them cigarettes, I will refuse to serve them. A change in the law gives me more clout in refusing people, it’s a good message for responsible retailers to hear.”

Kamal Thaker, who runs Stop Shop News in Edgware, London welcomed the legislation and added: “I have always been vigilant. If I suspect proxy purchasing I don’t serve that person.”

Also included in the legislation are measures restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s.

Powell said that when he started selling e-cigarettes three years ago he made a voluntary decision not to sell to under 18s. “The company supplying me placed an advisory stamp on the packaging recommending no under-18 sales,” he said. “I see this legislation as fair.”