Tobacco sales to children: 1 in 8 retailers still breaking the law.

Thursday 22 August 2002

ASH Press release:   22nd August 2002

One in eight retailers is regularly breaking the law by selling cigarettes to children under 16, a Government commissioned survey has found.  [1] The survey of action taken by trading standard officers to enforce the law on tobacco sales also found that almost 3,000 premises failed to display a sign stating that it is illegal to sell tobacco to minors.  Displaying a warning sign is a legal requirement. [2]

69% of local authorities used volunteer children to carry out test purchases of cigarettes and 71% checked premises to see if they were displaying a warning notice.

Commenting on the findings, ASH’s Research Manager Amanda Sandford said: “Whilst it is encouraging that trading standards officers are taking enforcement action, it is shocking that so many retailers are still breaking the law.  Sadly it is all too easy for children to buy cigarettes from unscrupulous shop-keepers.”

“There is simply no excuse for retailers not to be aware of the law and, if they are in any doubt about the age of youngsters, they should refuse to sell them tobacco products.”



[1]  Statistics on activity undertaken to prevent the sale of tobacco products to children aged under 16 years in England, Department of Health, 2001.

[2] Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act, 1991


Contact:  Amanda Sandford:   020 7739 5902   ISDN available.