Purchasing certain cold and allergy medicine to sell to methamphetamine cookers is a felony, and a new public education campaign was launched this week to warn people about that practice, which is called "smurfing."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon met with officials in Terre Haute on Wednesday to talk about the campaign.

Smurfing is the criminal enterprise of purchasing cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) to sell to meth cookers. Some people - such as college students and homeless people - are being recruited by meth cookers to purchase PSE products at retail stores and then resell the drug to the cooker for a high profit. PSE is the primary ingredient necessary to home cook highly addictive methamphetamine.

Zoeller told the Terre Haute Star-Tribune newspaper that the anti-smurfing campaign will inform consumers through signage displayed at stores that smurfing is a criminal offense and that buying PSE products for a stranger can fuel Indiana's meth problem.

The nation has been battling the scourge of meth addiction and production for several years. But the cookers and sellers are able to find new methods to obtain the ingredients needed to make the illegal drug.

When asked about returning pseudoephedrine to its former status as a controlled substance to limit its public access, Zoeller said he has discussed that process with prosecutors and police officers around the state. However, he said he thinks that the anti-smurfing public awareness campaign is the "next best step."

Bucshon said that Food and Drug Administration officials have been told that PSE cannot be considered a controlled substance because of its misuse. It is a safe drug on its own when used properly, he said.

Zoeller and Bucshon both said that making the drug available in Indiana by prescription only is a effort that the Indiana legislature would have to undertake. Such legislation has been proposed in the past, but it has not been approved.

It's going to be tough eliminating meth. But this joint initiative shows that state leaders are willing to join forces with the manufacturers of over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines to remind all Hoosiers that if you're purchasing these items for a meth cook, you are breaking the law and you will be arrested.