Age restricted products & solvent abuse – advice for all

The law makes the selling of age restricted products to those under age a criminal offence, with various penalties.

Retailers should be clear how the law and safeguarding responsibilities apply to them. Such products include:

Legal minimum age
Tobacco Products 18
Fireworks 18
Videos, DVDs and computer games (varies with
PEGI classifications)
3 -18
Alcohol 18
Lottery tickets and scratch cards 16
Lighter refills containing Butane 18
Solvents and volatile substances 18
Knives and offensive weapons 18
Aerosol paint containers 16


For more information on all of these products visit Trading Standards Manchester who aim to support businesses by raising awareness and promoting good practice and operate a policy of ‘prevention through advice’ by providing guidance to businesses on legislative requirements and associated best practice in an attempt to maximise the level of compliance with the law.

There is further useful information provided by the Manchester City Council Licensing Unit on the City council’s website

Solvent Abuse

Solvent abuse is the inhaling (sniffing) of fumes given off by a wide range of solvent based products, cigarette lighter refills and aerosols.

Sales of Intoxicating Substances (Solvents)
It is an offence to supply or offer to supply any intoxicating substances to a person under the age of 18 where the shopkeeper may reasonably believe that the product will be used for intoxication.

It is also an offence to supply butane gas, such as a cigarette lighter refills containing butane, to any person under the age of 18. This is irrespective to whether the seller knew or suspected it was likely to be abused.

The penalty for breaking this law or the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 is a maximum fine of £5000 or up to 6 months in prison or both. Products include:

  • Butane gas cigarette lighter refills
  • Hairspray
  • Liquefied domestic gas
  • Other aerosols
  • Solvent based adhesives
  • Some typewriter correction fluids
  • Deodorant aerosols
  • Petrol
  • Pain relief sprays
  • Certain paints, paint thinners and remover
  • Aerosol air fresheners
  • Dry-cleaning agent
  • Petrol Lighter fuel
  • Nail varnish and varnish remover
  • Shoe and metal polish
  • Plaster remover.

As detailed in the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985/The Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999

More information:


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