Dorset Council Trading Standards have carried out a test purchasing operation in Dorchester and Weymouth to identify businesses selling age restricted products to underage people.

11 retailers were targeted based on intelligence received, including from members of the public who believed they had witnessed underage sales.

A 15-year-old volunteer asked to buy vapes and knives. Three retailers sold vapes containing nicotine to the child.

Under Regulation 3 of the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015), selling a nicotine inhaling product to anyone aged under 18 is a criminal offence. This includes devices, cartridges, and refill vaping liquids containing nicotine.

There is a free toolkit to help small businesses stay within the law for their sales of age restricted goods and services.

The resource is free of charge for any business in the Dorset Council area that has less than 100 employees. Find it on proof of age website.

The toolkit provides:

  • Training on the sale of age-restricted products (renewed yearly)
  • Personalised product training
  • Owners’ and Supervisors’ reports on training progress
  • Supervisors’ handbook
  • Resource library, which includes posters and training materials   

Cllr Laura Beddow, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Culture and Communities, said:

“We want to work with businesses to keep them lawful and help keep children safe.  Testing is important to raise awareness of the issue with employers.

“Our volunteers are supported in this work, and their safety is our first priority.”

If anyone suspects that a retailer is selling age-restricted goods or services to someone underage, then they can report it to Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline 0808 223 1133 or on their webpage

Investigations into the sales and systems the retailers should have in place to prevent underage sales are ongoing. Further test purchase operations will continue in 2024.

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