Licences and permissions Underage sales

Solvents and lighter refills

Solvents include lighter fluid, aerosol air freshener, hairspray, cooker cleaner, glues, tippex thinner.  

It is illegal to sell substances to persons under 18 if you know or think that the substance or its fumes are likely to be inhaled for the purpose of 'getting high'.  Look out for children buying large quantities or frequently purchasing the above products.  It is up to you to decide if you think the substance will be used in this way.

It is also an offence to sell substances which you think will be sniffed, to persons acting on behalf of someone who is under 18.

It is an offence to sell cigarette lighter refill canisters containing butane to anyone under 18.

If you are not sure that the customer is over 18 (or 21 if Challenge 21 policy is in place) ask for proof of age (passport/photo driving licence of PASS accredited proof of age card).

If you are still unsure refuse the sale. You may wish to record the details in a refusals register to show that you are refusing sales.

If you suspect that an older person is buying on behalf of someone under 18 to inhale, refuse the sale.

It is advisable to ensure that your staff are fully trained in order to prevent them making sales of age restricted products. Any training they receive should be documented within a record of training form.

You commit an offence if:

  • you sell cigarette lighter refill canisters containing butane to anyone under 18
  • you sell 'sniffable' substances to anyone under 18 or someone acting on their behalf, if you know or think they will be used for 'getting high'

Reporting underage sales

If you suspect a retailer of selling any of these products to anyone under the minimum age, please report them via Citizens Advice Bureau. They manage the national Consumer Advice Service, and staff there assess each problem and pass it on to the relevant body, such as Trading Standards.

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