Preventing Underage Sales

Scroll through for highlights from the ACS Assured Advice guide on Underage Sales - the full document can be downloaded through the link on the left. Common refusal approaches: Deflection Common refusal approaches: Flattery Common refusal approaches: Constructive Avoiding Conflict: Early intervention - when seeing youths you suspect may attempt to buy alcohol, make a non-confrontational early intervention. Avoiding conflict: Stay calm and polite - Avoid abuse by making clear it is not your decision, but company policy. Avoiding conflict: Seek help - If you fear for your safety, call for help from a colleague. ID Checklist: Check the date of birth confirms they are old enough to buy the product. ID Checklist: Check that the document has not been tampered with or altered. ID Checklist: If not a passport or driving licence, check the PASS hologram. Join ACS Assured Advice for FREE now
Scroll through for highlights from the ACS Assured Advice guide on Underage Sales - the full document can be downloaded through the link on the left.

Understanding how to manage underage sales is probably the main compliance challenge a convenience store retailer faces. This guide explains what you are legally obligated to do; what you should consider doing as best practice; and how you put in place the policies and procedures that will help you to manage this difficult area successfully.

Age Restricted Sales Guide (Updated December 2016)

ACS recommends the use of Challenge 25 policies for all underage sales.

Challenge 25 is a store policy based on two simple principles:

1. All staff serving customers should be trained to ‘think 25’. This means if a customer is seeking to buy an age restricted product (of any kind), the staff member should ask themselves the question – ‘does the person in front of me look like they might be under the age of 25 years?’ If the answer is yes, then they should ask the person for a valid proof of age. If the identification confirms they are over the legal age of purchase for that product, then it can be sold to them.

2. The store policy is clearly communicated to customers, usually through the use of visible in-store signage.

Additional advice on preventing underage sales is also available on the Business Companion website here


The Psychoactive Substances Act (2016) came into force on the 26 May 2016, replacing previous legislation on intoxicating substances. The primary purpose of the legislation is to stop the sale of items that are commonly known as ‘legal highs’. However, the Act will also have implications for legitimate retailers, which in many cases will sell psychoactive substances such as butane and solvents entirely legitimately.

The ACS guidance document on Psychoactive Substances can be downloaded here:

Supporting materials for this advice guide are available for ACS members. For more information about these materials, please email Leah Myers at

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