Press release

New code ends ‘tick box’ regulation in sales of age restricted products

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Age Restricted Products Code of Practice published today will strengthen the protection of young people and reduce red tape.

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A new Age Restricted Products Code of Practice published today will strengthen the protection of young people and reduce red tape for responsible businesses that sell age restricted products safely, legally and profitably.

Ending inconsistent regulation of sales of products, including alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, will allow local authorities to focus resources on dealing with rogue traders and build closer partnerships with retailers and the police.

As part of the government’s drive to eliminate the bureaucracy that holds back growth, practices such as routine test purchasing, not informing retailers if they have passed or failed a test purchase, and targeting businesses without evidence that they are selling products to under-age customers, will be consigned to history.

The code provides guidance that will encourage regulators to give advice in clear, accessible language in a variety of formats, ensure legal requirements are explained clearly and fully, direct additional support towards new businesses, and to work closely with local initiatives including Town Centre Partnerships, Local Enterprise Partnerships and regional tobacco control groups.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

Businesses tell us that over-complicated regulation of age restricted products is not protecting young people effectively.

This important code recognises the vital role of the business community in upholding standards, while giving local authorities more freedom to clamp down on those that break the law. Making responsible retailers part of the solution will keep these products out of the wrong hands and help boost local economies.

The Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO), an independent unit within the Business, Innovation and Skills Department, has developed the new code in partnership with businesses and regulators. It builds on previous LACORS guidance and incorporates lessons learned from successful collaborations between local councils, police and businesses around the country.

The publication of the code is part of government action to cut red tape following feedback from businesses taking part in the Red Tape Challenge. Two reports published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that the government is making substantial progress in stripping away red tape in the retail and manufacturing sectors.

The Department has already scrapped nearly two-thirds of the 165 retail regulations, including outdated product safety regulations, and scrapped and improved half of the 66 manufacturing regulations which were identified for reform as part of the Red Tape Challenge. The government aims to remove half of the 6,500 regulations that impact on business.

Notes to Editors

1. The code is applicable to all local regulatory activities undertaken in England and Wales. It covers all products for which statutory age restrictions are in place, and all relevant compliance and enforcement activities.

2. The code provides guidance and resources to help thousands of frontline regulators meet their local authority’s existing statutory duties under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. It can be viewed at http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/brdo/docs/publications-2013/13-537-code-of-practice-age-restricted-products.pdf

3. The Red Tape Challenge was launched by the Prime Minister in April 2011. It gives business and the public the chance to have their say, by theme, on the regulations that affect their everyday lives, with the aim of scrapping or significantly reducing as many of them as possible. The retail theme was open on the Red Tape Challenge website between April and May 2011. The manufacturing theme ran between July and September 2011.

The Red Tape Challenge Implementation Retail report can be found here

The Red Tape Challenge Implementation Manufacturing report can be found here

4. Visit www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Media Contacts: jo.barker@brdo.bis.gsi.gov.uk or roland.curtis@brdo.bis.gsi.gov.uk

5. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:

  • To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

6. Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 24 January 2013