The Association of Convenience Stores has warned that simply showing tobacco to under-18s will be an offence, with penalties as high as two years in prison or a £5,000 fine, under current plans.
Even if a member of staff puts tobacco on the counter in front of an under-age customer, but doesn’t sell it to them because a till prompt reminds them to ask for ID, they will have broken the law.
It’s possible the penalties could be watered down in the final version of the regulations.
Public affairs executive Jenny Brown said: “This means showing as well as selling the product will be punishable. Till prompts will be too late – an offence will have already been committed.”?She added that retailers must “make sure they check for ID when someone asks to see the price list”.
The law changes are due to come into force in October 2011 for larger stores and 2013 for smaller shops.