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UK PROOF OF AGE SCHEME TO OFFER FREE CARDS

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<div> <P> CitizenCard, the UK's national proof of age scheme, today announced plans to make the scheme more appealing to young people, including making the cards free of charge to 16 and 17-year-olds from the autumn. </P> <P> The card, which currently costs &amp;pound;5, contains a hologram and the holder's colour photo, name, date of birth and signature, and is designed to combat illegal sales of age-restricted products such as tobacco, alcohol and lottery tickets. </P> <P> British American Tobacco, through its membership of the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association (TMA), has agreed to resource the new UK-wide marketing plan to make available free cards from the autumn. The marketing plan will also involve widespread consultation with parents, teachers, local and national Government, police, retail and consumer groups. </P> <P> Reiterating the Government's support for the scheme, Home Office Minister Mike O'Brien said: &amp;quot;I warmly welcome the industry's move to make these cards free to 16 and 17-year-olds and tackle the problem of the sale of age-restricted products to young people.&amp;quot; </P> <P> The process will also identify additional commercial opportunities to extend the availability of free cards to other age groups. </P> <P> Mike Bowen, chairman of CitizenCard&amp;#153; said the cards were already popular with young people - more than 30,000 had been issued since February. </P> <P> &amp;quot;The availability of free cards for the critical 16 and 17-year-old age group will enable retailers to insist on cards being shown, avoiding the sale of age restricted products such as cigarettes, alcohol, lottery cards and videos to underage customers. </P> <P> &amp;quot;When selling these age-restricted products, our recent research has shown just how easily retailers can be fooled by people's appearances.&amp;quot; </P> <P> Notes to Editors </P> <UL> <LI>CitizenCard&amp;#153; is the UK's national proof of age scheme, offering cards to anyone over the age of six who is resident in the UK. It is a non-profit scheme supported by: Association of Convenience Stores, Camelot, Ladbrokes, National Federation of Retail Newsagents, Somerfield and the Tobacco Manufacturers Association. </LI></LI></UL> <UL> <LI>Since its launch in February 1999 32,000 cards have been issued. </LI></LI></UL> <UL> <LI>Free CitizenCards&amp;#153; will become available from Autumn 2000. Application forms are available from schools, retail outlets, police stations, courts, Citizens Advice Bureaux, GP surgeries and via <A target="_blank" href="http://www.citizencard.net">http://www.citizencard.net</A> </LI></LI></UL> <UL> <LI>Other benefits to cardholders include free phone time, a voicemail message service and a selection of money-off vouchers including discounts for music and sports events. </div>

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