Solvent abuse is the inhaling (sniffing) of fumes given off by a wide range of solvent based products, cigarette lighter refills and aerosols.
This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.
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.
- Butane gas cigarette lighter refills
- Liquefied domestic gas
- Solvent based adhesives
- Deodorant aerosols
- Pain relief sprays
- Aerosol air fresheners
- Other aerosols
- Some typewriter correction fluids
- Certain paints, paint thinners and remover
- Dry-cleaning agent
- Petrol Lighter fuel
- Nail varnish and varnish remover
- Shoe and metal polish
- Plaster remover
Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985/The Cigarette Lighter Refill (Safety) Regulations 1999
The law requires you to take 'all reasonable precautions' not to sell to under 18's.
You can move affected products to the till area so that more control is possible.
Display signs around your premises so that customers are aware of the law and the shop's position. Stickers are available from Re-Solv on 0808 800 2345.
You can alert your staff to under age sales and train them. You and your staff must know the law and feel confident in refusing sales if they know or suspect the product is going to be abused.
Consider keeping a refusals log book to record any refusals you or your staff make, not only for solvents but any age restricted products.
Ask for age identification, and check it. Normally accepted forms of identification are
- A Passport
- A Photo Driving Licence or Local Post Office
- A Citizencard Tel: 01782 741982
- A Validate Card 01830 540403
- A 'Prove it' Portman Card - These cards are no longer being issued, those that are in date are still valid.
All products can be dangerous if they are misused. The products currently responsible for most deaths are butane gas cigarette lighter refills.
In 2001 they were linked to 66% of all volatile solvent abuse deaths, an increase from 52% in 2000, with under-18 year olds accounting for 36% of these deaths.
This doesn't mean that other products, such as aerosols and adhesives are less dangerous. If you are in any doubt about the intended use of the product - the sale should be refused.
How can you recognize if someone is an abuser?
- the smell of glue or solvents on the person's clothes
- slurred speech or behaviour similar to drunkenness
- the frequent purchase or bulk purchase of solvents by a customer
- the purchase of plastic bags and solvents at the same time
We will continue to carry out routine visits at retail premises to give advice.
|2008/2009||12 attempts||3 sales||(25%)|
|2007/2008||10 attempts||2 sales||20%|
|2006/2007||17 attempts||3 sales||18%|
|2005/2006||6 attempts||2 sales||33%|
Solvent abuse is inhaling (sniffing) the fumes of volatile substances like cigarette lighter refills, solvent based glues, aerosols and petrol.
“Volatile substance abuse can kill instantly and without warning. In the past decade alone, it has killed more young people under the age of 15 than all other illegal drugs combined.” Stephen Ream, Re-Solv.
In 2008 there were 36 deaths due to solvent abuse, compared with 58 in 2007, 5 of these deaths were under 18s and 2 of these 5 deaths were attributed to cigarette lighter refill gas, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation. The youngest death was of a 12-year-old.
In 2008 butane from all sources, including aerosol propellants, accounted for almost 83% of volatile substance abuse deaths (30 of the 36 deaths).
Figures from St George’s University of London
Help us stamp out underage sales of age restricted products
- Report an under age sale
- phone the hotline 01962 833620
Winchester SO22 5PW