Age restricted sales

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is responsible for enforcing a range of legislation relating to sales of age-restricted products, principally tobacco, alcohol, fireworks, solvents, computer games/DVDs, knives and lottery tickets.

For many years, we been advising retailers on steps to take to avoid illegal sales of age-restricted products. In a large number of cases, formal legal proceedings have been taken against those retailers who have sold such products to children under the legal age limit.

Information received from some retailers during this enforcement work has shown that it is difficult to assess the age of a young person. If you are ever in doubt about the age of a person, ask them for photographic identification e.g. passport, new-style driving licence or a card bearing a PASS accredited hologram.

The following is designed to guide you through the requirements of the law and assist in compliance.

 Under 12    Under 16    Under 18

Not to be sold to anyone under the age of 12/15

  • Cert 12 and 15 Videos, DVDs & Game

Not to be sold to anyone under the age of 16

  • Cert 12 and 15 Videos, DVDs & Games
  • Lottery Tickets
  • Scratch Cards
  • Party Poppers, Novelty Matches, Table bombs etc
  • Liqueur Chocolates
  • Spray Paints

Not to be sold to anyone under the age of 18

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco Products & Cigarette Papers
  • Gas Lighter Refills
  • Fireworks
  • Cert 18 Videos, DVDs & Games
  • Nicotine Inhaling Products (e cigs/e liquids)
  • Botox and cosmetic fillers
  • Knives

Why are there age restrictions?


There is increasing concern about the adverse health effects of children drinking at or above the sensible levels for adults. Regular, heavy alcohol consumption and binge drinking have been associated with physical problems, antisocial behaviour, violence, other crime, accidents, suicide, injuries and road traffic accidents. In young people, it can also affect school performance.


Smoking causes a vast toll of death and impaired health. In the UK around 114,000 smokers die every year and smoking causes very significant disease and loss of quality of life (ASH 2008). Levels of prevalence remain stubbornly high, particularly in Yorkshire and the Humber where they are 23%. To find out levels of prevalence in your local area please use the following link which provides access to prevalence rates in any ward in England:

Solvent Abuse

Solvent abuse is very dangerous. There is no safe way to sniff or breathe in chemicals. The risks are very high regardless of whether you are sniffing for the first time or you have been sniffing for a while. Symptoms may include fatal heart problems, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches and blackouts. Long term effects include brain damage, kidney or liver failure. A number of fatalities have arisen from solvent abuse.


There is an increasing number of youngsters who carry and use knives. While they may not actually intend to use the knife they are placing themselves in a position where they could potentially kill someone. Please report any concerns to West Yorkshire Police by calling 101.

Videos and DVDs

It is important that children and young adults are protected from the effects of viewing potentially harmful or unsuitable content in video recordings including physical violence, torture and scenes of a sexual nature. Rating certificates are applied to such recordings to ensure that they are suitable for viewing in the home by the target audience.


It is against the law to possess fireworks in public if you're under 18. It is against the law to throw or set off fireworks in the street. Fireworks must not be sold to anyone who is under 18.

Botox and Cosmetic Fillers

Some cosmetic treatments, if not carried out correctly, can carry risks to physical health including infection, blindness and, in rare cases, death. There are also psychological risks associated with changing physical appearance.

Children and young people are more vulnerable as they are developing physically and mentally, and there are ethical implications around the extent to which they can give informed consent to procedures.

The law safeguards children and young people from the potential risks of Botox and cosmetic filler treatments and provides the highest possible level of protection by ensuring that treatments are only available following an assessment by a doctor and performed by a regulated healthcare professional. 

Report Illegal sales of age restricted products

Trading Standards Officers enforce many of the laws relating to age-restricted products (see list below). Please report your concerns to

By Phone

Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline: 0808 223 1133
or Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0808 223 1133

Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm - closed on bank holidays.

Web Chat

You can report a trader via Web Chat (follow the link and click 'Talk to an advisor')


What to report

It is a criminal offence for businesses to sell to children and young people under the age of 18:

  • Cigarettes, tobacco and e-cigarettes
  • Fireworks
  • Solvents
  • Alcohol
  • It is also a criminal offence in England to administer or make arrangements to administer botox or cosmetic filler treatments to people under the age of 18 – even if they have the consent of their parent, carer or guardian, unless the treatment is supervised by a doctor.
  • Similar rules apply to lottery tickets, videos and computer games, where the age limit can be lower. In each case it is a criminal offence to sell any of these products to a person under the specified age.


The law also prohibits sales to people under 18 of:

  • offensive weapons such as knives, air guns and cross bows

The police enforce these laws – report concerns to West Yorkshire Police – phone 101.

Business owners and staff can all be prosecuted for selling these products to anyone who is underage.

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