No proof of age, no cigarettes


New rules for selling cigarettes mean retailers risk committing an offence unless they verify, using an approved proof of age method, that someone is not underage.

Acceptable proof of age will be a driving licence, passport or a national Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) card, such as the Young Scot PASS card.

Young Scot today unveiled their PASS awareness pack to help retailers and service providers abide by the new law and identify authentic proof of age documentation.

The rules, which come into force on April 1, are part of a wider revamp of tobacco sales law. The move also introduces a requirement for tobacco retailers to register to sell tobacco as well as new offences of proxy purchase and underage purchase.

Among the key points in the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act regulations, published today, are:

  • Setting a fixed penalty of £200 for people who buy, or attempt to buy, tobacco products for under 18s
  • Setting a fixed penalty of £200 for retailers, rising by £200 for every offence committed within a two year period
  • Fines of up to £20,000 or six months in jail, or both, for selling tobacco without being on the Register of Tobacco Retailers

Regulations governing the display of tobacco will be published in due course.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:

“For the first time, this legislation will put a duty on retailers to verify that a potential purchaser is not underage – and it also specifies what methods of ID are acceptable.

“It’s important that both retailers and young adults are aware what forms of ID are acceptable, particularly the PASS card which is now recognised in legislation as an acceptable proof of age card.”

David McNeill, Entitlements and Rewards Director at Young Scot, said:

“The new PASS awareness pack will provide peace of mind to anyone selling age restricted goods or services, whether that’s at bars, clubs, shops, cinemas or on public transport. Staff will be able to use the pack as a quick reference point which will help them to arrive at a confident and informed decision about recognising authentic PASS cards as proof of age.

“The Young Scot National Entitlement Card with the PASS hologram gives young people a free and credible way to prove their age and access those goods or services to which they are entitled.”

The regulations, which are the next step in the government’s drive to reduce smoking rates, were published in advance of Ms Robison speaking at the Scottish Smoking Cessation Conference.

She said:

“Stopping smoking is the single most important thing anyone can do to improve their health. That’s why we have invested heavily in stop smoking services and, despite the tough economic climate, we have prioritised spending in this area and protected the budget.

“A record number of smokers are successfully quitting with NHS Scotland’s help and I hope this will continue in years to come.”

The regulations being published today cover:

  • Registration of moveable structures and fixed penalty notices
  • Register of tobacco retailers
  • Prescribed documents

The Register of Tobacco Retailers, which will be held by the Scottish Government, will open on April 1 and retailers have until October 1 to register. Registration will be simple and free.