It is important to ensure that your staff and you are familiar with what products are age-restricted. As a retailer, you rely on the snap decisions of your staff to prevent underage sales, therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are properly trained and are confident with their skills to challenge for ID.
We recommend displaying our A3 statutory Tobacco poster and if you sell fireworks you will also need an A3 statutory fireworks notice (not supplied in the packs; available for download). This acts as a reminder of what goods are age-restricted for your staff and, if in doubt, as a quick reference. It also acts as a good deterrent for underage customers attempting to buy age-restricted items. It may make them think twice knowing that your staff is alert and checking.
If your store gets caught selling tobacco to minors twice within 2 years, a conviction on a 3rd illegal sale can result in a Restricted Sale of Premises Order. A restricted premises order is an order prohibiting the sale on the premises to which it relates of any tobacco to any person.
Children should not smoke, drink alcohol, play with fireworks or take part in the lottery. To safeguard against underage sales, there are a number of simple steps that even the smallest business can put in place.
Retailers must ensure that staff understand:
An up-to-date record should be kept of the training given to staff. For convenience, you should make good use of the Refusals Register included in our free Retail Packs.
Although the law only requires the warning notices in respect of sales of tobacco and fireworks to be displayed, retailers should make good use of all space available for other information posters and warning notices. These notices should jog the memory of staff as well as acting as a deterrent for underage customers.
Young customers should always be challenged for ID, even if they look like they might be old enough. You and your staff should never try to guess someone's age, if in doubt, it is always better to check and ask for proof of age/ID. If a customer does not have their driving licence or passport, you should look for the PASS hologram on any proof-of-age card. Make sure the ID is checked carefully; look for tampering, the relevant security features and check the date of birth thoroughly. It is often useful to have a note on the till with the year of birth for today's 18-year olds.
Retailers should be clear with their staff over what is accepted as valid proof of age. We recommend that you only accept:
If a young customer does not have ID encourage them to apply for a discounted CitizenCard using the QR code on the SCAN ME window vinyl/poster/shelf wobblers.
Place the CitizenCard application forms from the retail packs near your till. This way, if the customer can't use the QR code they can still apply for a card.
Retailers selling products, such as, alcohol, tobacco and fireworks are on the front line in preventing the underage sales of these products and need to think carefully about how to lay out their store. They should keep as many of the age restricted goods as possible behind the counter. Tobacco products must be stored out of sight. That way, customers will need to ask for them, giving your staff an added opportunity to assess their age. If all of your age-restricted goods do not fit behind the counter, keep them in direct sight of your staff and not hidden away at the back of the store. The courts have said that if you set out your store in a disorganised and careless manner, it may prevent you from defending any prosecution brought by Trading Standards for underage sales.
In order to help with the battle against underage sales, retailers must not only think about where to place the goods they want to sell, but they must also think about strategically displaying the materials offered in our free Retail Packs. If you are a store selling tobacco or tobacco-related products, you must display the A3 statutory Tobacco notice (01). We recommend displaying it at the top of your tobacco gantry or on its sliding doors. This allows the bold, yellow poster to be visible from all heights, making customers aware that they must be of age to purchase tobacco products. Display the two 'Scan Me' shelf wobblers (02) by conveniently peeling the sticky tape from the top of the T-bar, in order to stick the wobbler where you judge most effective – we recommend displaying one on the alcohol shelves and one on/by the till. Use them to point customers in the direction of accepted and affordable proof of age cards. Similarly, ask your staff to fashion the two 'No ID, No Sale!' and 'Scan Me' badges (03) on their uniform, especially the staff working at the tills. These show the customer that you are aware of the underage sale laws and are actively challenging for ID. The handy QR code means you can advise customers to apply for a discounted CitizenCard from anywhere in the store. Where customers can’t use the QR code, they can still apply for a card using the paper CitizenCard application forms (04). You will receive 10 forms, keep these near your till, in order to quickly be able to advise somebody to apply for a CitizenCard, if that person was unable to produce valid ID.
You should display all information posters, such as the A3 Age Restricted Items poster (05), the A4 'Scan Me' poster (06), the A4 'Under 25' poster (07) and the A4 HMPO poster (09) in close proximity of your till. These are all a great and efficient way of informing customers of all the products and services that they can expect to be asked identification for. These will inform the customer that the 'Challenge 25' scheme is in action in your store, hence they should be prepared to produce valid ID where necessary. Place the 'Scan Me' window vinyl (08) on the entrance of your store. The vinyl is conveniently double-sided so that information can be seen from inside and outside of the store. This is a good way to inform customers on their way into your store, that you are actively complying with the underage sales laws.
Tell your staff to keep a record of any refused sales. You can either set your till up to do this or use the Refusals Register included in your retail pack. The 'No ID, No Sale!' Refusals Register contains easy-to-read instructions on the inside cover, and 6 pages for your refusal records, including an example on the first line on how to sufficiently fill this out. Regularly check the record to see if your staff are properly logging refusals – an empty log may indicate refusals are not being made and more training is needed. Also keep a copy of any training provided.
Local Trading Standards officers actively enforce this legislation and one slip up can put your business and licences in jeopardy. If you do fail an official test purchase, they will tell you within a few days. You should be prepared to be re-tested in the next few days and certainly within 3 months. If you fail again, the penalties can be four times higher. Set regular reminders for your staff to emphasize the importance of effectively checking ID when selling age restricted items. You should carry out refresher training for your staff at least once every three months.