Local News

1,125 Store Clerks Cited During Tobacco Compliance Checks

Posted January 9, 2008 10:25 a.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2008 1:34 p.m. EST

WRAL News

— 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asheville
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.