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E Cigarette Sales Legislation Changes on Restricted Goods

3rd Oct 2015

From 1st October 2015 it is illegal for retailers to sell electronic cigarettes or the e liquid used in them to someone under the age of 18. It is also an offence for anyone over 18 to  buy e cigarettes or buy e liquid on behalf of a young person, attracting a fine of £50.

The new regulations apply to ‘nicotine inhaling products’ and this includes the inhaling device (i.e. e cigarettes and vaporizers), nicotine cartridges or nicotine refill substances (i.e. e liquid).

Please help us enforce this new law by never sharing your PayPal details or Debit/Credit Cards with minors.

Full details of these new laws and other restrictions on the sale of nicotine containing products are in the  Children and Families Act 2014.

Whilst researching the new law we investigated the sale of other age restricted items and some of this research is shared below.

A Guide to Age Restricted Goods

When opening a shop, depending on the sort of shop you open, you might find yourself selling items that are subject to the Age Restriction Legislations some are obvious, others not so much.

For example, if we use the example of a craft business – Some obvious examples of restricted items include, blades, and needles, but some of the less obvious include, Solvent-based pens and paints.

So how do you ensure you don’t fall foul of the law?

This article will help you to try and understand the legislation, and what falls under it, it will also help highlight some of the less obvious items, what is expected of you as a retailer, and what the penalties are if you get it wrong.

The following table shows you at a glance examples of the ages that it is legal to sell products to teenagers:

Product Age Limit
Volatile Substances/Solvents 18+
Fireworks 18+
Alcohol 18+
Offensive Weapons/Knives 18+
Lighter Refills 17+
Airguns & Pellets 18+
Tobacco / E Cigarettes / E Liquids 18+

Caps, Cracker Snaps, Novelty Matches Party Poppers, Serpents and Throw Downs


Lottery Tickets / Scratch Cards


Aerosol Paint


DVD’s, Videos, Computer Games – Check Classification:

12+, 15+. 18+

To demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable precautions to prevent the sale of an age restricted product to someone who is underage, you should ensure that you have put systems in place to make sure these products are not sold to anyone who is underage.

It is important to have a record of the systems and procedures you have in place in case you or your staff are ever challenged by Trading Standards.

Some examples of systems you could initiate include:

  • Displaying signs to show proof of age will be checked
  • Displaying posters showing age restrictions
  • Asking for ID on age restricted products
  • Only accepting photo ID. (For example, Photocard driving licence, “proof of age” card such as a Validate or Citizen Card, by any card bearing the PASS logo as a hologram, or passport are also suitable forms of I.D.)
  • Refusing to make a sale if photo ID is not available
  • Entering refusals in a “refusal log book”
  • Using a till prompt which needs further action to complete the sale
  • Using “Mystery Shoppers” to test the systems you have put in place.
  • Having regular, documented staff training, making sure you get your staff to sign to say that they have understood the training.
  • CCTV systems that you can review regularly.

The above are general systems that you can put in place, we will now spend some time going into more detail about what you must do if you are selling particular products in terms of specific legal notices.

Volatile Substances/Solvents:

These have been broken down into the more common forms of Volatile Substances to make it easier for you… we have also included some of the “danger signs” that may alert you to the possibility that the young person is planning to use the solvent/volatile substance for substance abuse.

Solvents- 18+:

The Intoxicating Substance (Supply( Act 1985 states that “Solvents are not to be sold to under 18’s if it is believed that they are likely to be inhaled for the purpose of becoming intoxicated”

This doesn’t just apply to solvents in liquid form, but also items such as certain brands of pen or markers, certain paints, or paint cleaning products, also some glue products.

Butane Cigarette Lighter Refills - 18+:

As per The Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999, it is illegal to sell “a cigarette lighter refill canister containing Butane, or a substance containing Butane to anyone under the age of 18”.

Petrol/Diesel - 16+ :

As part of the Petroleum (Consolidation) Act of 1928 it is stated that it is illegal to “sell petroleum or diesel to anyone under the age of 16, and that anyone under the age of 16 must not be allowed to operate any pumps on the forecourts of garages and service stations”.

Some of the common “danger signs” of a young person looking to take part in substance abuse, or who has already taken part include:

  • buying only solvents
  • buying solvents and plastic bags
  • looking drunk
  • having spots and sores around the mouth and nose