It is a criminal offence for businesses to sell alcohol, cigarettes, fireworks, solvents, butane lighter refills and offensive weapons such as knives, air guns and crossbows to people under the age of 18.
Similar rules apply to lottery tickets, aerosol spray paints, party poppers and liqueur chocolates where the age limit is 16. Videos and computer games may have 12, 15 or 18 age limits. In each case it is a criminal offence to sell any of these products to a person under the specified age.
Minimum age products
- adult fireworks - 18
- alcoholic drinks - 18
- aerosol spray paints - 16
- butane cigarette-lighter refills - 18
- crossbows and lookalike guns - 18
- DVDs, videos and certain consoles games - 12, 15 or 18, as marked
- knives, axes and blades - 18
- lottery tickets - 16
- liqueur confectionery - 16
- petrol - 16
- tobacco products and cigarette papers - 18
Download an A3 tobacco notice to display (PDF, 44 KB)
We work with retailers and the police to reduce the number of the under-age sales in the borough. Test purchases are conducted to check:
- compliance with the law
- age verification practices
That means we will ask an underage volunteer to attempt to buy an age-restricted product. They may be covertly observed by an officer. Find out more about volunteering to monitor age-restricted products.
If a retailer is subject to a test purchase, we will inform them of the result either at the time or in writing afterwards. We may prosecute or, working with the police, issue fixed penalty notices or cautions to retailers who make illegal sales.
In cases of illegal alcohol sales, we may also instigate a licensing review of the alcohol premises licence, which may result in suspension or revocation of the licence.
Responsible retailer agreement on knives
If you're a retailer of knives or bladed instruments, you have a part to play in helping to reduce knife crime in London. Find out more about the responsible retailer agreement on knives.
Support and training for retailers
To support retailers and to prevent underage sales we offer:
- information leaflets
- refusal booklets to record incidents of refusing the sale of age-restricted products
- free training sessions
'Do you pass?' training scheme
'Do you pass?' training is designed to help businesses prevent age restricted goods from getting into the hands of young people.
For more information on upcoming training courses, please contact Trading Standards.