Tobacco retailers

Under the Sale of Tobacco (Display of Tobacco Products and Prices etc) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 tobacco retailers* are required to cover their display of tobacco products. It is an offence to display tobacco products unless a specific request to purchase tobacco has been made to you by a person over the age of 18.

* Trade-to-trade wholesalers will be exempt, whilst specialist tobacconists will continue to be able to display all tobacco products other than cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

Retailers must not have tobacco products and smoking-related products (cigarette papers, tubes, filters, holders, apparatus for making cigarettes and pipes for smoking tobacco products) on permanent, open display - for example, on public view on gantries behind the counter. The size of each display must not exceed 1,000 square centimetres. Tobacco retailers must make sure that tobacco products and smoking-related products are out of public sight and cannot be seen, even for a short time.

The law also states that:
  • It is an offence for any person to sell tobacco products or cigarette papers to anyone under the age of 18 years. This is a strict-liability offence - the member of staff who made the sale can be held responsible and so can the owner of the business.
  • Cigarettes must only be sold in prepacked quantities of ten or more and in their original packaging. It is an offence to split a pack and to sell in lesser quantities.
  • It is illegal to provide a cigarette vending machine that can be operated by customers. Any vending machine on the premises can only be used for storage where the public does not have access (such as behind the counter).
  • You must display a notice that states IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18. The notice must be displayed in a prominent position and be easily visible at the point of sale. The notice must be no less than 297mm x 420mm (A3) and the characters must be no less than 36mm in height. Your local trading standards service or your tobacco supplier may be able to provide a notice in the prescribed size.


Nicotine vapour products or E-cigarettes

From 1 April 2017 new rules apply to the sale and purchase of tobacco and nicotine vapour products, known as NVPs or e-cigarettes. The legislative changes mean that:

  • it is illegal to sell NVPs to anyone under 18
  • it is illegal to buy NVPs for someone under 18
  • all retailers selling tobacco or NVPs will need to be registered
  • stores will need to have an age verification policy for sales of tobacco and NVPs
  • an unauthorised person under 18 will not be able to sell these products

These were introduced in the Health (Tobacco, Nicotine etc and Care) (Scotland) Act 2016. In addition, the Act proposed a number of restrictions around advertising NVPs and a ban on NVP vending machines, which will be introduced later this year.

Nicotine vapour products, or NVPs, is the term used in Scotland to cover all types of electronic cigarettes, vaping devices and related products.

Further guidance on the law for retailers is available from Chartered Trading Standards Institute's Business Companion site (make sure the Scotland option is selected) and the Scottish Government.


Scottish Tobacco Retailers Register

You must register with the Scottish government to become a tobacco retailer. It is free to register, go to The application must contain your name and the address of the premises (including moveable premises) from which you intend to retail tobacco.

Nicotine Vapour Products businesses or retailers that sell both tobacco and Nicotine Vapour Products must be registered.

See also information on Smoking Ban enforcement.

Trading Standards
Tel: 01592 583141 Fax: 01592 583318 Contact Trading Standards online
By Post: Kingdom House Kingdom Avenue Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LY

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