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Age restricted tobacco sales will “stand or fall” without proper enforcement

Posted 09/06/22

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has welcomed the Khan Review ‘Making smoking obsolete’, but warned that increasing the age of sale from 18 by one year, every year, will require significant enforcement action to ensure businesses comply.  CTSI has also welcomed the proposal to enhance local illicit tobacco enforcement by investing £15M to tackle the illicit market.

Other key proposals include:

  • An additional £125 million a year to be invested in smoke-free policies, with a further £70 million a year ringfenced for stop smoking services;
  • Promoting vapes as an effective “swap to stop” toolto help people quit smoking but ensuring that vaping doesn’t appeal to young people;
  • Improving prevention in the NHS so smokers are offered support to quit at every interaction they have with health services;
  • Tobacco licences for retailers to limit its availability across the country
  • Investing £15M to fund a mass media campaign to encourage smokers to quit.

John Herriman, Chief Executive, CTSI said:

“CTSI welcomes this vitally important review to help us finally stub out tobacco use in England.  Raising the age of sale, year on year, is a radical attempt to “de-normalise” smoking for future generations. We would welcome clarity on how the year-on-year age restriction in sales will work, and Trading Standards professionals stand ready to support through enforcement, test purchasing and monitoring.  Increasing age restrictions is a bold move but the effectiveness of this, could stand or fall, based on how robustly we deal with underage sales and the trade in illicit tobacco which could  undermine such major attempts to reduce smoking levels and achieve Government targets .”

“CTSI has previously raised concerns that the arrangements to test out whether businesses are selling to people under the age of sale are “patchy” and “sporadic” and will require further investment in order for us to fully understand the whether the law of the land is being undermined by crooked and unscrupulous businesses.” 

CTSI’s latest Tobacco Control Survey (2020) – and the last year it was commissioned by DHSC, found that over 90% of Councils had to deal with complaints and enquiries in relation to underage sales.  

“We would urge the Government to implement the recommendations to invest in local illicit tobacco enforcement, such as Operation CeCe to tackle the trade in illegal tobacco at the local level.  And we also believe that further measures may be needed to deal with the potential growth in sales on platforms such as online platforms and marketplaces on social media.

We would very much welcome further discussions with the Department of  Health and Social Care around the important role that Trading Standards professionals can provide to support these laudable goals.”



The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

  • The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not for profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’s trading standards profession, and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services at local authorities and in businesses. tradingstandards.uk
  • Operation CeCe is a grant funded operation [ between HMRC and National Trading Standards ] to tackle illegal tobacco at local level.


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