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Reducing the supply of alcohol and cigarettes to minors

It is illegal to sell certain products to people below specified age limits. The majority of age restricted product legislation is enforced by the Police or Trading Standards.

There are harsh financial and custodial penalties which can be applied for not complying with such laws.

Facts to remember as a retailer

  • An offence may be committed by the seller (employee) and the business owner
  • Different products have different age restrictions
  • Do challenge the age of every young person
  • Do demand proof of age: no card – no sale
  • Do not rely on looks alone
  • Do exercise your right not to sell – if in any doubt do not sell
  • Do introduce a due diligence procedure
  • Seek advice if in doubt about any aspect of the law or these guidance notes


ProxyWatch is a 24-hour service enabling members of the public to report when youths asked them to buy alcohol or cigarettes.

ProxyWatch receives information from a wide variety of sources including members of the public, police, community wardens, and shop managers and staff.

The overall aim of ProxyWatch is to reduce the supply of alcohol to minors, and in turn reduce anti-social behaviour near and around retail areas.

To report an incident to ProxyWatch text 07730 704892, phone 023 9268 8777 or email

PASS (Proof of Age Standard Scheme)

Please follow the link for more information on the national Proof of Age Standards scheme.

This advice is not intended to be a definitive guide to, or substitute for, the relevant law. Follow the link for more information and guidance from the government Home Office. Seek independent legal advice if appropriate.

Alternatively, follow the link for further information on the Challenge 25 campaign, or write to us for further advice at:

Trading Standards, Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2PQ

Train your staff

Follow the link for more information on staff training to prevent underage sales.