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Trading Standards - Alcohol and Tobacco   Download this section

In response to changes in the law and a new code of practice, trading standards officers have changed the way ‘enforcement visits’ with the young test purchasers are made. We have also changed the method of operation so the attempted test purchasers more closely mirror reality. These new methods have increased the percentage of illegal sales detected. In 2012/2013 25% of attempted purchases of alcohol and 25% of tobacco resulted in an illegal sale. We need to continue a combined programme of education and enforcement for retailers in York to maintain a ‘high profile’ in preventing age restricted products easily falling into the hands of young children through this means.

We are also working on new methods of identifying illegal sales of cheap and illicit alcohol and tobacco. The availability of cheap tobacco products undermines the government’s efforts to reduce tobacco consumption through increased pricing.  Industry surveys indicate that 25% of tobacco products may be illegal (survey of cigarette butts taken from litter bins in York) yet the team receive very little intelligence about illegal supplies. There is an urgent need to improve intelligence about the supply of cheap and illicit products. This was recognised in the CLEAR Peer Assessment on Tobacco Control in York.

There is new legislation in place requiring tobacco products to be hidden from display in supermarkets and large shops. Inspections by trading standards officers show that there is full compliance.

There are at present no known ‘Shisha cafes’ in York. These are premises which are growing in popularity amongst younger people. The premises sometimes disregard laws restricting smoking in public places. This is thought to be a growth industry and something which needs to be carefully monitored. 


Trading Standards – Alcohol & Tobacco: Key Priorities

  • Maintain a ‘high profile’ on preventing underage tobacco sales through local retailers. Explore the potential for a ‘Primary Authority’ relationship with large business(es) with multiple stores and ‘approve’ their systems to help prevent illegal sales.
  • Improve the intelligence on illegal supplies of alcohol and tobacco, in particular the supply of cheap and illicit tobacco.

Check compliance with legislation requiring ‘small shops’ to hide tobacco products from display from 2015.

Product Visits Sales (%)
Alcohol 16               4 (25%)
Cigarettes 4               1 (25%)
Fireworks 4 0
Knives 1 0
Total Visits 25               5 (20%)


The Trading Standards Institute’s tobacco control survey 2012-2013 shows that the national average for illegal sales of tobacco in this type of operation is 12%. York is therefore double the national average, although it is accepted that this is a small sample size.

Cancer Research UK suggest that 561 of 11 to 15-year-olds started smoking in York during the last year, based on statistical averages.


This page was last updated on 20 April 2015
This page will be reviewed by 20 April 2016