C -store retailers are concerned that raising the minimum age of sales of tobacco from 16 to 18 years could lead to more abuse of staff by customers.

The Trading Standards Institute believes upping the minimum age for cigarette sales will aid retailers who claim it is difficult for them to determine the age of children.

However, Mark Ayling, who runs Pipers Store in Hailsham, East Sussex, believes if the move went ahead it might cause even more tension at the till area for retailers.

He commented: “I don’t think it would help retailers because people who already smoke and are aged 16 or 17 will still try and buy cigarettes, which could cause more flare-ups in-store when they are asked for ID.”

A parliamentary Early Day Motion advocating the raising of the minimum age to 18 has so far been signed by 47 MPs.