Quality statement 3: Underage sales

Quality statement

Trading standards identify and take action against retailers that sell tobacco products to people under 18.

Rationale

It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18. Trading standards should work in partnership with retailers, police and the wider community to gather reliable information and take action against local retailers who sell tobacco to people under 18. This may include providing advice and guidance to the retailers, test purchasing and taking legal action.

Quality measures

Structure

a) Evidence of local arrangements to obtain and interpret information to identify retailers that sell tobacco products to people under 18.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Evidence of local actions undertaken to prevent retailers from selling tobacco products to people under 18.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

a) Proportion of tobacco test purchases with a recorded underage sale.

Numerator – The number in the denominator with a recorded underage sale.

Denominator – The number of tobacco test purchases carried out in a specified geographic area.

Data source: Tobacco Control Survey, England. Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

b) Proportion of retailers with a recorded underage sale followed up with advice to the retailer.

Numerator – The number in the denominator followed up with advice to the retailer.

Denominator – The number of test purchases with a recorded underage sale in a specified geographic area.

Data source: Tobacco Control Survey, England. Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

c) Proportion of individuals sanctioned for persistently selling tobacco to people under 18.

Numerator – The number in the denominator sanctioned for persistently selling tobacco to people under 18.

Denominator – The number of individuals identified as persistently selling tobacco to people under 18 in a specified geographic area.

Data source: Tobacco Control Survey, England. Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

d) Proportion of tobacco sales outlets sanctioned for persistently selling tobacco to people under 18.

Numerator – The number in the denominator sanctioned for persistently selling tobacco to people under 18.

Denominator – The number of tobacco sales outlets identified as persistently selling tobacco to people under 18 in a specified geographic area.

Data source: Tobacco Control Survey, England. Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Outcome

Incidence of underage tobacco sales.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for local trading standards and local retailers

Local trading standards work in partnership with retailers, the police and the wider community to gather reliable information and take action against local retailers who sell tobacco to people under 18.

Local retailers are subject to test purchase operations and if underage tobacco sales are recorded, further action is taken. They work with local trading standards in order to comply with the legislation. If the retailers are found persistently selling tobacco products to people under 18, they can be sanctioned by magistrates' courts.

What the quality statement means for children and young people

Children and young people find it hard to buy tobacco products and hard to start or carry on smoking. This means that they are better protected from smoking‑related harm.

Source guidance

Smoking: preventing uptake in children and young people (2008, updated 2014) NICE guideline PH14, recommendation 5

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Identifying retailers

Local trading standards, the police, HM Revenue and Customs, voluntary and community groups work in partnership to obtain, interpret and act on reliable intelligence to identify retailers that sell tobacco products to people under 18.

Trading standards also work with local retailers to increase awareness of, and compliance with, the tobacco legislation.

[NICE guideline PH14 and expert opinion]

Taking actions against retailers

Actions taken against retailers include:

  • undertaking test purchases to detect breaches in the law at retailers identified by local intelligence

  • raising awareness of tobacco legislation among retailers and providing advice to those retailers found selling tobacco to anyone under 18

  • using sanctions and taking legal action against retailers.

Trading standards can apply to the magistrates' court to impose fines or sanctions on the retailers. The maximum fine is £2500. When a person is convicted of making an illegal sale to anyone under 18 and, on at least 2 other occasions within a 2‑year period, has committed other similar offences (these do not need to have resulted in a conviction), a sanction may be applied for. The magistrates' court can issue a Restricted Premises Order or a Restricted Sale Order, or both.

Restricted Premises Order – The retail premises is prohibited from selling tobacco products for a period of up to 12 months.

Restricted Sale Order – A named person is prohibited from selling tobacco or managing premises in relation to the sale of tobacco products for a period of up to 12 months – the business may still sell tobacco but the individual may not.

[Responsible tobacco retailing, 2014 and expert opinion]

Equality and diversity considerations

Smoking is more common in socially deprived areas and children and young people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds take up smoking at an earlier age. Targeting retailers with awareness‑raising campaigns can potentially have more impact in disadvantaged areas.