Countywide crackdown on underage alcohol and cigarette sales

West Sussex warns against underage alcohol and cigarette sales

West Sussex County Council Trading Standards has warned shopkeepers they will take action against them if they are found to be selling underage customers alcohol and tobacco.

The warning follows a series of test purchases by Trading Standards in which two 17-year-olds and a 15-year-old attempted to buy cigarettes and alcohol from shops in Bognor Regis, Crawley, Haywards Heath, Littlehampton and Worthing. Of the 16 shops visited, the underage customers were able to buy cigarettes or alcohol without having proof of age on nine occasions.

Businesses are being reminded that they must ensure they do not sell these products to under 18s.  Most businesses do this by operating a Challenge 25 policy.  If a customer looks under the age of 25, proof of age is required, and staff must be trained to verify the customer’s age before selling age-restricted products. Businesses found to be selling alcohol or tobacco to any person under the age of 18 could face a huge fine, as well as having their alcohol licence revoked.

Peter Aston, West Sussex County Council Trading Standards Team Manager added: “Simply asking a customer how old they are is not enough. Sellers must ask for and be shown, valid and recognised photo ID to prevent illegal sales of age restricted products.  We recommend this is asked for whenever a customer looks under 25.

Members of the public who have information about the sale of age restricted products to children or the sale of illicit tobacco should call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or report the details online www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.

Retailers can find more advice and guidance around the sale of age restricted products, on the Business Companion website: www.businesscompanion.info

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