During the busy period leading up to Christmas, it’s important for retailers to be extra vigilant when selling age restricted products – especially as some items will be in particular demand over the festive period.
Tony Allen, managing director of Under Age Sales, reminds retailers what the law says about six age restricted goods that are likely to be popular this December.
- Nutmeg: as well as being an essential ingredient in a Christmas cake, eggnog or hot toddy, nutmeg can actually act as a hallucinogen. Because of this, retailers cannot sell it to anyone below the age of 18, under the terms of the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985. Retailers who supply an intoxicating substance to someone under 18 can face an unlimited fine and/or up to six months imprisonment.
- Alcohol: it is illegal for retailers to sell alcohol to anyone under 18, as stated in the Licencing Act 2003. Retailers are advised to adopt the ‘Challenge 25’ approach whereby they ask anyone lucky enough to look under this age for identification. Should a retailer sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years of age in a licensed premise, they can face an unlimited fine. Failing to have an age verification policy in place can also lead to a prison sentence of up to six months.
- Pets: some shoppers may be on the lookout for a loveable pet to bring into their home this Christmas – but retailers must check they are a certain age before permitting this. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, it is illegal for retailers to sell an animal to anyone they believe is under 16. Breaching this legislation carries a penalty of a maximum fine of £2,500 and/or up to 51 weeks imprisonment.
- Teeth whitening products: If anyone is after a set of pearly whites this Christmas, retailers must check that they are 18 or over before letting them purchase a teeth whitening kit. Such products cannot be supplied to anyone aged under 18, as specified in the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013 and the first application of any course of treatment must be carried out by a Dental Practitioner. Not complying with this legislation could result in an unlimited fine and/or up to three months’ imprisonment.
- Imitation firearms: it is against the law to sellunrealistic imitation firearms – such as toy guns – to anyone under 18, as outlined in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006. It is also illegal for a person under 18 to purchase an imitation firearm, for example a ball bearing weapon like a BB gun. So while toy guns might seem like fun accessories for children to play with, selling them to youngsters is a serious offence. Retailers who sell certain firearms to under 18s face an unlimited fine and/or up to 51 weeks imprisonment.
- Christmas crackers: believe it or not, Christmas crackers are classified as category 1 fireworks under the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015 and as such retailers cannot sell them to anyone under the age of 12. If you see any chirpy youngsters eager to buy some, you must check they are over 12 years of age to purchase them, otherwise you are liable for an unlimited fine. Not the Christmas present you want to receive.
Under Age Sales is a social enterprise that specialises in helping retailers prevent under age sales of restricted products, and assists them in achieving compliance.