Traders are being reminded that they are putting their livelihoods at risk by not asking for identification when selling age-restricted goods.
The warning from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service (HotSW TS) comes after a number of premises in Devon and Torbay were found selling age-restricted products to a person under the age of 18.
This month, HotSW TS Trading Standards Officers carried out test purchases in Teignmouth, Newton Abbot and Torbay in partnership with Devon & Cornwall police and Teignbridge District Council.
The operation focused on the underage sale of alcohol and vapes.
A volunteer, under the age of 18, was able to purchase disposable vapes from four out of 19 premises visited.
Sharon Anderson, Group Manager Investigations & Compliance for Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said:
“We’ve seen a huge increase in vaping as an alternative to cigarettes over the last few years. Originally meant to help smokers stop smoking, the bright colours and sweet flavours are now worryingly attracting younger audiences and so it is essential that store owners ensure that they do not sell these products to children.
“We have closed two businesses this year for selling vapes to children and businesses must remain vigilant when selling these products and follow the regulations.
“We will continue to work in partnership with Devon & Cornwall police and local authorities to carry out test purchases on a regular basis.”
There are a range goods that many business owners might not usually think about as being age-restricted, including for example computer games, knives, pets, tanning services, DVDs and magazines. Businesses that are found illegally selling or supplying certain age-restricted products can be prosecuted and may also lose their licence to sell certain products.
Businesses can contact HotSWTS for advice Advice and guidance for the sale of products to underage people (devonsomersettradingstandards.gov.uk) and one year’s free access to the Trading Standards South West No Proof of Age – No Sale online toolkit. This training package covers all age restricted products and gives clear guidance to businesses.