Legislation which prohibits the sale of Christmas crackers to the under-16s has today been condemned by retail industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
In August the UK’s Pyrotechnic Articles (safety) Regulations was update to include crackers as a category one firework, which gives them an age restriction of 16 and requires cashiers to check the age of a customer before sale.
As retailers must now demand ID from those buying crackers if they are unsure of their age, the BRC has asked customers to be understanding and called for a change in the law.
Jane Bevis, Director of Public Affairs at the BRC, said: “Busy shoppers with a lot on their minds will be understandably frustrated if they are asked to provide ID to buy a box of Christmas crackers. It’s the health and safety rules which have gone crackers and not retailers themselves.
“No-one wants children to be able to buy things which are dangerous or bad for their health, but extending rules for fireworks to cover the kind of bang provided by a cracker seems particularly daft.”
Stores will receive financial penalties, and individual cashiers could face a fine of as much as £5,000 or six months in prison, if caught selling Christmas crackers to minors.
The new updated law is based on an EU directive which requires an age restriction of 12 and the BRC hopes the UK government changes the legislation to the lower age.
Bevis added: “The government has promised to ease up on regulations on businesses but this one seems to have slipped through the net.
“The original EU directive which would have put the age restriction at 12 should never have been gold-plated to become 16 in the UK. Now that has happened, it’s vital there is a sensible attitude to enforcement until the government can reverse this ludicrous restriction.”