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Retailers urge Government to rethink age-restricted items

August 31, 2010

Tesco, Asda and other major UK retailers are seeking to reform the regulations on alcohol, cigarettes and other items with age restrictions as they believe the laws are too complex.

The consortium, which represents 250,000 retail outlets, including a large number of independent retailers, has urged the Government to review the existing pieces of legislation – 18 in total – and consider consolidating them into one comprehensive rule. The group has also called for a stronger bond between local regulators and government trading bodies.

Retailers have said they are being targeted by various groups as not regulating on underage alcohol sales as good as they should, but the consortium said that they are unfairly being singled out. Social justice groups have called upon retailers to take a greater interest in reducing knife crimes and under-age drinking.

Currently, there are 13 carious age-restricted products that are regulated by different laws, these include spray paints, fireworks, alcohol, and cigarettes.  According to retailers, the complexity with which these items are regulated makes it difficult to train staff and maintain vigilance in the matter. Additionally, the retailers have said the existing laws do not allow their employees a fair trial should they be prosecuted.

Chairman of CBI’s Consumer Affairs Panel, Geoffrey Budd said that retailers role in preventing children access to such items would be more effective if they were viewed as part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem. The report indicates that retailers are keen to stop underage sales but that regulations are found to be too complex and burdensome.

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