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
  • Knives
  • Gas Lighter Refills
  • Fireworks
  • Cert 18 Videos, DVDs & Games
  • Nicotine Inhaling Products (e cigs/e liquids) – from 01/10/15

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.

Knife Crime

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.

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.


Complaints about underage sales

Complaints about underage sales are received from concerned members of the public, the Police, schools, community organisations and health professionals and by far the most common are those relating to the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to under 18s.

In response to such complaints, each retailer in question is advised by letter that a complaint has been received, reminding them of their legal obligations and giving guidance on how to ensure compliance with the law.

Enforcement visits are subsequently made by a Trading Standards Officer, during which a test purchase is attempted, using children aged 13 to 16. Children are supervised at all times and evidence necessary for any possible court action is gathered. Many of the visits are made as part of a joint approach with West Yorkshire Police Officers and involve work at both off and on licence premises.

  • If you have information about a retailer illegally selling products to children contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.
  • If you are a business that would like a visit from West Yorkshire Trading Standards to discuss the issue of underage sales or would like to be sent a Responsible Retailer pack which provides information about underage sales please contact us.

Test purchase volunteers required:

Trading Standards is always looking for volunteers to help find the traders who are prepared to sell products to the underaged. If you have a child aged between 13 and 15 that may be interested in assisting in such operations and require further advice or information please contact us

If you are a young person and would like a PASS accredited proof of age card visit:

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