Underage sales

Find out about selling age restricted products.

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Workplace experience with Trading Standards

If you are aged 16 or 17 and might be available to work with us for a day or two in the next few weeks, you could gain work experience and an insight into the role of the Trading Standards department.

We are looking for young people to assist us with undercover test purchases of age restricted products such as tobacco, e-cigarettes and fireworks. Remuneration is available.

For more information or to express an interest, please contact us.

Scottish Tobacco Register

All retailers who sell cigarettes, tobacco products, e-cigarettes or any of their parts must register on the Scottish Tobacco Register. It is free to register. It is illegal to sell these items if you are not registered.

Age-restricted products

The sale or supply of a wide range of products to underage people is illegal because of the harm they can cause. These are called age-restricted products and the term 'underage sales' is commonly used to describe their sale or supply to young people. The term “age-restricted" means that you have to be of a certain age to buy them, commonly 16 or 18 depending on the product. Anyone who sells any of these products to underage people commits an offence.

If you have concerns that a retailer is selling goods in breach of the age restriction, this information can be passed to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or Trading Standards on 01467 537222.

Products Age Restriction
Cigarettes and Tobacco 18
Nicotine Vapour Products (E-cigarettes) and constituent parts 18
Alcohol 18
Fireworks 18
Party Poppers, Cracker Snaps, Novelty Matches, Throw Downs 16
Knives, knife blades, razor blades and axes 18
Butane Cigarette Lighter refills 18
Aerosol Paints 16
DVDs / Videos / Computer Games As marked
National Lottery, Health Lottery and Instant Win Tickets 18
Petrol 16

Statutory notices

Retailers supplying tobacco products, fireworks and aerosol paints are required to display a legal notice declaring it is illegal to supply that product to those under the specified age limit.

View an A3 Tobacco notice (PDF 33KB) available for download.

View a spray paints notice and information sheet (PDF 23KB) available for download.


Sales of products to young people is a serious offence and, depending on the product, both the business and member of staff making the sale can be prosecuted. A prosecution may result in a significant fine of up to £5000 as well as a criminal record.


All retailers offering age-restricted products for sale are required by law to operate an age verification scheme so that if a young person appears to be under 25 years of age, they must be asked to produce an approved form of identity document proving that they are old enough to buy the product. No ID means no sale.

The typical types of identification documents are a UK passport, driving licence or card bearing the Proof of Age Standard Scheme (PASS) holograph, most commonly the Young Scot card. View further information on the PASS scheme.

Proxy purchase

It is illegal for anyone aged 18 or over to buy cigarettes, tobacco, E-cigarettes or nicotine containing refills on behalf of anyone under 18.

If you do, you could face an on the spot fine or prosecution and end up with a criminal record.

If you see someone buying these products on behalf of a young person, call in confidence on 01467 537222 to report it.

Illicit and counterfeit Tobacco products

Illegal tobacco sellers don't care how young the buyer is or if they put local shops out of business; BUT WE DO.

Illicit cigarettes have been manufactured abroad for lawful sale in foreign markets then smuggled into the UK. Counterfeit cigarettes have been manufactured by organised criminals, often abroad and smuggled into the UK for sale here at prices well below the recognised retail price. However, examination of these cigarettes has shown that they often contain contaminants such as rat poison, arsenic and even human faeces.

If you know of anyone selling illicit or counterfeit cigarettes or tobacco in any circumstances, PLEASE LET US KNOW.

DON'T FUND CRIMINALS - contact us in confidence.

Contact us

Trading standards
Telephone: 01467 537222