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15 March 2016

Six businesses caught selling age-restricted products to 16-year-olds

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Six out of 14 businesses tested in a recent underage purchasing operation failed to comply with the law by selling age-restricted products to underage customers.

Cumbria County Council Trading Standards and Cumbria Police carried out a joint undercover operation in which 16-year-old volunteers attempted to buy alcohol, tobacco or e-cigarettes at premises in Barrow, Keswick and Workington

All three of the premises tested for e-cigarettes sold the nicotine inhaling products without asking for proof of age. Two out of five off licences tested sold alcohol and one out of six premises sold tobacco.

As a result, staff at the two premises which served alcohol to an underage volunteer were issued with £90 fixed penalty notices. All premises which failed to comply with the law will be subject to repeat undercover tests. The establishments could risk heftier fines or even losing their licences for any repeat offences.

Councillor Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Trading Standards said: “Most businesses act responsibly and sensibly, so it’s disappointing that such a high proportion of premises failed this time. Trading Standards work closely with traders to ensure compliance with the law and these undercover checks form a vital part of that process. Test purchases are carried out throughout the year, so I’d remind businesses that they should always ask for identification that proves someone is 18 years or older.”

Anyone with any information regarding the possible supply of alcohol, tobacco or other age-restricted products to underage people can inform Cumbria Trading Standards via Citizen Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

Community Safety Inspector Jon Sherlock said: “Cumbria Constabulary works closely in partnership with Trading Standards, supporting each other to ensure that businesses are complying with the law and that these substances aren’t being sold to those not legally able to consume them.

“It is disappointing to see the number of businesses that failed the test and it will not be tolerated. Suitable advice and guidance is given to these premises, but if they continue to put the health and well-being of young people at risk, we will take the necessary action against them to safeguard the children of Cumbria.”

Businesses that sell age restricted products to children can face fines of up to £5,000 and a prison sentence.

Legislation prohibiting the sale of nicotine inhaling products, or e-cigarettes, to under 18 year olds came into force in November 2015.

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Six out of 14 businesses tested in a recent underage purchasing operation failed to comply with the law by selling age-restricted products to underage customers