solvent, abuse, legislationConvenience stores and CTN’s sell many products that are controlled by legislation. Tobacco, alcohol and lottery products are the most common all being age restricted. We are all aware of this issue and the way that it should be managed in store and Trading Standards officers often have it on their agenda when visiting stores.

An area of legislation that does not get much publicity is solvent abuse. Retailers in England and Wales are effected by the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 and in Scotland there is the Solvent Abuse (Scotland) Act 1983. The website Frank says:

“Solvent misuse isn’t illegal. Although, it’s illegal in England and Wales for shopkeepers to sell you intoxicating substances if they think you’re likely to be inhaling them.

In Scotland the law is different but the effect is similar. Under Scottish law you can be prosecuted for ‘recklessly’ selling substances to any age group if you suspect they’re going to inhale them.

Since October 1999, the law makes it an offence to supply gas lighter refills to anyone under the age of 18. This law applies to the whole of the UK.”

I was surprised recently to discover that we were being targeted by a substance abuser. The young man was buying butane gas from us on what became a very regular basis. He was visiting our shop at different times of the day and being served by different assistants. When one of our assistance realised what he was probably doing we removed our remaining stock from display.

In our affluent village community I did not expect to be confronted with the issue of solvent abuse and I guess our action has only pushed the young man on to another shop for his supplies. Protecting ourselves from this piece of legislation is not simple as this incident illustrated to us. Unlike restricting purchases for age where one can ask to see proof of age with solvent abuse we have to look for other indicators like multiple purchasing of gas.

This rather detailed management circular produced by Glasgow City Council for heads of schools give good guidance for what to lookout for.