Local News

1,125 Store Clerks Cited During Tobacco Compliance Checks

Posted January 9, 2008

— Alcohol Law Enforcement agents conducted 6,895 tobacco compliance checks across the state last year and cited 1,125 store clerks in 91 counties for selling tobacco or tobacco products to a minor.

“Every store clerk should be properly checking IDs and refusing to sell to minors,” said ALE Director Bill Chandler. “State law prohibits selling tobacco to a minor, and as some clerks found out last year, the penalties can be stiff.”

A District Court judge may fine a violator up to $1,000 or order "community punishment" of up to 30 days if the defendant has no prior convictions, the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety said in announcing the ALE actions.

If the clerk does have prior convictions, he or she could be serving time in jail as well. Selling tobacco to an underage person is a Class II misdemeanor.

ALE offers programs to educate the clerks at retail outlets on how to check identifications and prevent sales to minors through the BARS (Be A Responsible Seller) training program. Agents also distribute signs and brochures related to the state law and the responsibilities of retail merchants.

Each month, ALE agents make random compliance checks as part of the state’s Tobacco Education and Compliance Check Program.

The following are the yearly totals from each of ALE’s nine district offices:

Elizabeth City
Establishments checked: 418
Citations issued: 61
Counties: 13 - Bertie, Currituck, Dare, Edgecombe, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Nash, Pasquotank, Tyrrell and Washington.

New Bern
Establishments checked: 559
Citations issued: 94
Counties: nine - Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico, Pitt and Wilson.

Establishments checked: 777
Citations issued: 143
Counties: seven - Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender.

Establishments checked: 645
Citations issued: 90
Counties: nine - Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and Wayne.

Establishments checked: 1,113
Citations issued: 169
Counties: nine - Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.

Establishments checked: 950
Citations issued: 183
Counties: nine - Alamance, Anson, Caswell, Guilford, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond and Rockingham.

Establishments checked: 916
Citations issued: 170
Counties:13 - Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Lincoln, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin.

Establishments checked: 904
Citations issued: 142
Counties: six - Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanly and Union.

Establishments checked: 613
Citations issued: 73
Counties: 15 - Avery, Buncombe, Cleveland, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey.

ALE is the lead agency for the Tobacco Education and Compliance Check Program, and works in partnership with the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services.

The N.C. Retail Merchants Association and the N.C. Association of Convenience Stores also supports the tobacco campaign.

ALE has 117 agents across North Carolina to enforce alcohol and tobacco laws.


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  • lilbittyt13 Jan 10, 2008

    Humm ? thefensk and Phroge must have worked as clerks or know someone who does . I worked as a clerk and a manager at a "stop & rob" .Mostly my clerks and I were tested with the minor trying to buy beer ( even had some after concerts when you could not walk in the store it was so crowded).
    My favorite reaction was when you card someone (not old enough) who actually gives you their ID and then is amazed you can hold it and turn it over to Law enforcement for attempting to purchase under age....dumm da dum dum .

  • the big guy Jan 10, 2008

    I may be wrong but I am pretty sure that it is also illegal for a person underage to attempt to buy tobacco products, so by the ALE sending them in the store to do so is also breaking the law

  • Travised Jan 9, 2008

    They have tightened the sales amazingly. I could walk up to the counter and buy 4 different types of cigs, not show ID and walk out... I was 15. They decided to first card me the month I turned 18. I seriously laughed at the counter. I asked the seller you are just NOW carding me? I have been buying here for 3 years! Her face almost turned white.

    When I was carded in my 30's I was in shock. I told the counter I had not been carded since I just turned of age. They must card everybody at that location.

    No, The bust is an annual drill. My friend was caught bu doing a "judgement call" based on the persons look. Now she cards ALL persons buying tobacco no matter what. That way she and the store are covered. You made it to the store, you should have ID on you if you are out of home.

  • Eduardo1 Jan 9, 2008

    I feel that sting operations with Tobacco are really entrapment, same as the shows on TV with huge amounts of Police power going after girls going up to "Johns" for $10-25 sex. He wants, she wants it, all adults, so what! If toy want to deter something, do more stings with underage alcohol sellers

  • Clownsruletheworld Jan 9, 2008

    I can't help but think that is another huge waste of taxpayer money. There are so many huge problems facing this state, and for resources to be squandered in a Stasi-like effort that ultimately hurts low-income convenience store workers seems ridiculous. I know that tobacco is toxic, as does most everyone else over the age of ten, and if people still want to smoke for some idiotic reason, then ALE is not going to stop them, especially with foolishness like this.

  • bushretard Jan 9, 2008

    wow...I feel so much safer now...good job ALE!

  • richard2 Jan 9, 2008

    If you can't check id's then you don't need to sell the products. Simple. Problem solved.

  • angora2 Jan 9, 2008

    My niece was caught buying cigs underage and her punishment was to be part of a sting. She went into convenience stores and tried to buy cigarettes. If they sold them to her, they got busted.

  • Justin T. Jan 9, 2008

    The real problem I've seen is selling "cigar wraps", "blunt wraps", etc. to minors. Everybody does know that when you see these in gas stations (or similarly unusual flavored cigars) that these products are used exclusively to smoke pot.

    Nobody seriously thinks a green apple or pineapple flavored cigar is being smoked as a cigar, do you?

  • Raydianse Jan 9, 2008

    even 5 year olds know smoking is bad, if they want to smoke they are going to, i would rather them by it from the store than have to hustle themselves around for a pack of smokes.