Trading Standards advise retailers how to avoid selling tobacco and NVP (nicotine vaping products) to under-18s through the use of proof age schemes. We put shops to the test on this with the help of young volunteers. Volunteers should be non-smokers, between 16-16 1/2 and have written parental/guardian consent.
Volunteers are trained in what to do and say while test purchasing, and are accompanied by a Trading Standards staff-member throughout. They are trained never to lie to shopkeepers but to avoid giving information that may identify them. Volunteers are not asked to test-purchase near to school or home and are free to pull out at any point.
All transport, meals and refreshments are provided. We also give volunteers certificates confirming their volunteered hours (including travel and training), and references for college and/or jobs. If they wish, two or more volunteers can travel and train together. Previous volunteers have found the experience enjoyable and worthwhile.