Selling Tobacco

Find out more about your legal obligations as a tobacco retailer – what you must do, what you are prohibited from doing and the latest information on display restrictions.

Selling Tobacco in England

It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in the UK.

Retailers of tobacco MUST:

  • Display a statutory notice in a prominent position visible at the point of sale. The statutory notice must be A3 with characters no less than 36mm high and stating: “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.”
  • Only sell legitimate UK duty paid stock carrying current health warning.
  • Request to see ID of any young person purchasing tobacco if there is any doubt about their age.

It is PROHIBITED for retailers of tobacco to:

  • Sell cigarettes in quantities less than pre-packaged 10s (selling single cigarettes to anyone is illegal).
  • Offer incentives to customers to purchase a tobacco product.
  • Sell smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products.
  • Operate a tobacco vending machine for use by members of the public.
  • Openly display tobacco products in retail premises with a relevant retail floor area exceeding 280 square metres; except in prescribed situations, see below.

Display restrictions

Large stores (>280 square metres) are now required to restrict visibility of their tobacco products. Only after a customer aged 18 or over makes a request (i) to purchase a product or (ii) for product information can up to 1.5 square metres of tobacco display be revealed. Exemptions are in place for activities such as stocktaking, staff training, price marking and refurbishment.

The Tobacco Display Regulations set out certain exceptions i.e. when the tobacco products can be displayed:

‘Requested Display’ following an individual request for information about a tobacco product.

‘Permitted Display’ during restocking, staff training etc.

Bulk Tobacconists (Cash & Carrys) are permitted to display tobacco in a separate tobacco area (subject to certain restrictions).

‘Brand and Price Indications’ are permitted on the tobacco unit and in the form of a price list (these are highly regulated, we recommend seeking advice before displaying).

From 6th April 2015 smaller retailers (<280 square metres) will be subject to these same regulations.

Separate regulations exist for ‘Specialist Tobacconists’.

 

Page updated – 19th August 2014

Disclaimer – This page has been created by Imperial Tobacco to help UK retailers understand the requirements of tobacco regulation. It does not constitute legal advice. If in doubt, retailers are urged to seek independent legal advice. Imperial Tobacco does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy or use of the information above.

 

Selling Tobacco in Wales

It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in the UK.

Retailers of tobacco MUST:

  • Display a statutory notice in a prominent position visible at the point of sale. The statutory notice must be A3 with characters no less than 36mm high and stating: “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.”
  • Only sell legitimate UK duty paid stock carrying current health warning.
  • Request to see ID of any young person purchasing tobacco if there is any doubt about their age.

It is PROHIBITED for retailers of tobacco to:

  • Sell cigarettes in quantities less than pre-packaged 10s (selling single cigarettes to anyone is illegal).
  • Offer incentives to customers to purchase a tobacco product.
  • Sell smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products.
  • Operate a tobacco vending machine for use by members of the public.
  • Openly display tobacco products in retail premises with a relevant retail floor area exceeding 280 square metres; except in prescribed situations, see below.

Display restrictions

Large stores (>280 square metres) are now required to restrict visibility of their tobacco products. Only after a customer aged 18 or over makes a request (i) to purchase a product or (ii) for product information can up to 1.5 square metres of tobacco display be revealed. Exemptions are in place for activities such as stocktaking, staff training, price marking and refurbishment.

The Tobacco Display Regulations set out certain exceptions i.e. when the tobacco products can be displayed:

‘Requested Display’ following an individual request for information about a tobacco product.

‘Permitted Display’ during restocking, staff training etc.

Bulk Tobacconists (Cash & Carrys) are permitted to display tobacco in a separate tobacco area (subject to certain restrictions).

‘Brand and Price Indications’ are permitted on the tobacco unit and in the form of a price list (these are highly regulated, we recommend seeking advice before displaying).

From 6th April 2015 smaller retailers (<280 square metres) will be subject to these same regulations.

Separate regulations exist for ‘Specialist Tobacconists’.

 

Page updated – 19th August 2014

Disclaimer – This page has been created by Imperial Tobacco to help UK retailers understand the requirements of tobacco regulation. It does not constitute legal advice. If in doubt, retailers are urged to seek independent legal advice. Imperial Tobacco does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy or use of the information above.

 

Selling Tobacco in Scotland

It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in the UK. In Scotland, it is also an offence to sell cigarettes to a proxy purchaser i.e. a person aged 18 or over who knowingly buys or attempts to buy a tobacco product or cigarette papers on behalf of a person under the age of 18.

Retailers of tobacco MUST:

  • Display a statutory notice in a prominent position visible at the point of sale. The statutory notice must be A3 with characters no less than 36mm high and stating: “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.”
  • Only sell legitimate UK duty paid stock carrying current health warning.
  • Request to see ID of any young person purchasing tobacco if there is any doubt about their age.
  • Join the ‘Register of Tobacco Retailers’ – See below.
    • Online – Register at www.tobaccoregisterscotland.org
    • Download & Post – Visit www.tobaccoregisterscotland.org, download, print and complete the application form and return by post.
    • Telephone and Post – Call 0131 244 2169 (Scottish Government tobacco control team) and request a copy of the registration form be sent to you. Complete the application form and return by post to: Scottish Government, Tobacco Control Team, Area 3EN, St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG

 

It is PROHIBITED for retailers of tobacco to:

  • Sell cigarettes in quantities less than pre-packaged 10s (selling single cigarettes to anyone is illegal).
  • Offer incentives to customers to purchase a tobacco product.
  • Sell smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products.
  • Operate a tobacco vending machine for use by members of the public.
  • Openly display tobacco products in retail premises with a relevant retail floor area exceeding 280 square metres; except in prescribed situations, see below.

 

Display restrictions

The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010 empowers the Scottish Parliament to restrict the display of tobacco products, ban tobacco vending machines and introduce a registration scheme for tobacco retailers.

Large stores in Scotland (>280 square meters) are now required to restrict visibility of their tobacco products and smoking related products (this includes papers, filters, and apparatus to make tobacco products such as tubes and cigarette makers).

Only after a customer aged 18 or over makes a request to (i) purchase a product or (ii) for product information can up to 0.1 square metres (1000 square cm) of tobacco product display be temporally revealed. This is the equivalent of around 8-12 packs side by side.

Exemptions are in place for activities such as stocktaking, staff training, price marking and refurbishment.

From 6th April 2015 smaller retailers (<280 square meters) will be subject to these same regulations.

Separate regulations exist for ‘Specialist Tobacconists’.

 

 

Page updated – 19th August 2014

Disclaimer – This page has been created by Imperial Tobacco to help UK retailers understand the requirements of tobacco regulation. It does not constitute legal advice. If in doubt, retailers are urged to seek independent legal advice. Imperial Tobacco does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy or use of the information above.

Selling Tobacco in Northern Ireland

It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 in the UK. The penalty for selling to people under the age of 18 is a fine of up to £2,500.

Retailers of tobacco MUST:

  • Display a statutory notice in a prominent position visible at the point of sale. The statutory notice must be A3 with characters no less than 36mm high and stating: “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18.”
  • Only sell legitimate UK duty paid stock carrying current health warning.
  • Request to see ID of any young person purchasing tobacco if there is any doubt about their age.

It is PROHIBITED for retailers of tobacco to:

  • Sell cigarettes in quantities less than pre-packaged 10s (selling single cigarettes to anyone is illegal).
  • Offer incentives to customers to purchase a tobacco product.
  • Sell smuggled or counterfeit tobacco products.
  • Operate a tobacco vending machine for use by members of the public.
  • Openly display tobacco products in retail premises with a relevant retail floor area exceeding 280 square metres; except in prescribed situations, see below.

Display restrictions

Large stores (>280 square metres) are now required to restrict visibility of their tobacco products. Only after a customer aged 18 or over makes a request (i) to purchase a product or (ii) for product information can up to 1.5 square metres of tobacco display be revealed. Exemptions are in place for activities such as stocktaking, staff training, price marking and refurbishment.

The Tobacco Display Regulations set out certain exceptions i.e. when the tobacco products can be displayed:

‘Requested Display’ following an individual request for information about a tobacco product.

‘Permitted Display’ during restocking, staff training etc.

Bulk Tobacconists (Cash & Carrys) are permitted to display tobacco in a separate tobacco area (subject to certain restrictions).

‘Brand and Price Indications’ are permitted on the tobacco unit and in the form of a price list (these are highly regulated, we recommend seeking advice before displaying).

From 6th April 2015 smaller retailers (<280 square metres) will be subject to these same regulations.

Separate regulations exist for ‘Specialist Tobacconists’.

 

Page updated – 19th August 2014

Disclaimer – This page has been created by Imperial Tobacco to help UK retailers understand the requirements of tobacco regulation. It does not constitute legal advice. If in doubt, retailers are urged to seek independent legal advice. Imperial Tobacco does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy or use of the information above.

 

Preventing underage sales

The Children and Young Persons Act makes it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 years. As a responsible category leader, Imperial Tobacco is committed to ensuring only adult smokers purchase our products.

Advice to retailers:

  • If there is any doubt about the age of the customer, always ask to see valid photo proof of age.
  • You must train your staff in this policy; keep a record of the training and when it was done. Repeat the training at regular intervals.
  • Keep a refusals or incident log. Check this record periodically; it will show you if there are members of staff that rarely refuse sales. This might mean that additional training is required.
  • Imperial Tobacco supports the No ID No Sale campaign and encourages the trade to use this resource. No ID No Sale retailer support packs and information are available from the website below.

Useful websites:

www.noidnosale.com
www.tradingstandards.gov.uk

 

Protect your business from the Illicit Trade

Suspect it Report it

Imperial Tobacco is totally opposed to illicit trade and is committed to working with governments and customs and excise authorities around the world to tackle tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting.
It is illegal for anyone to sell Non-UK Duty Paid tobacco products in the United Kingdom. Non-UK Duty Paid tobacco products sold in the UK fall into two categories:

  • Smuggled stock – Product which is manufactured legally for the world market, but then illegally smuggled into the UK and sold.
  • Counterfeit stock – Product which is illegally manufactured (fake) and then sold in the UK (this stock may also be illegally imported).

The sale of either is a criminal offence and has a negative effect on legitimate UK retailers.

If you have any information relating to the sale of illegal tobacco products please contact the HM Revenue & Customs Hotline:

Freephone Hotline:
0800 59 5000
Email: customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
Address: Freepost Customs Confidential,
Freepost SEA 939,
PO Box 100,
Gravesend, Kent
DA12 2BR
Website:   HM Revenue & Customs Hotline

 

Smuggling and counterfeiting benefits no one except the criminals involved, creating a market that is uncontrolled and unaccountable.  As a result, children can more easily obtain tobacco products, governments are deprived of tax revenues and the livelihoods of UK independent tobacco retailers are threatened.

Latest estimates* from HM Revenue & Customs indicate that the illicit trade in tobacco products costs the UK Treasury over £3 billion a year. They estimate that up to 16% of cigarettes consumed in the UK and around 44% RYO tobacco is sold illegally, cheating legitimate wholesalers and retailers out of millions of pounds of revenue.

Our international experience reinforces our concern that excessive tax increases by governments fuel the growth of illicit trade.

 

*2012