Flagging Down Underage Smokers

Red Flag campaign designed to reduce teen cigarette sales

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Three state agencies and North Carolina retailers unveiled a new voluntary campaign Tuesday to reduce cigarette sales to minors by regularly checking the driver's licenses of patrons, the Associated Press reported.

The Red Flag campaign is designed to encourage store clerks to check for a red border around each license photo when someone is attempting to buy cigarettes. A red border means that the customer is under 18 and cannot purchase alcohol or tobacco products.

Some 90% of adult smokers in North Carolina [image-nocss] began smoking before they were 18, said Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue, the chairperson of the North Carolina Health & Wellness Trust Fund, which is involved in the campaign.

The campaign will help prevent young people from having access to tobacco, and that will save lives, as well as money, Perdue said.

The campaign will continue over the next three years, slowly crossing the state to cover districts within the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE). The state Department of Health & Human Services also is involved in the campaign.

Along with a kickoff news conference at the Legislative Building, similar events were held in Edenton, Gastonia and Murphy, N.C.

Educational materials will be provided within each ALE district to retailers interested in participating. The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association, North Carolina Association of Convenience Stores and grocery store chain Lowes Foods have formally endorsed the initiative, according to a news release.

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