Charleston, WV —  In advance of the Spring Season which brings Spring Break, Prom and Graduation, West Virginia State Senator Vic Sprouse; Chief Jerry Pauley, Charleston Police Department; Gary Robinson, Education Prevention Supervisor, West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Commission; and Michael Folio, North Central Distributors; joined Pam Beer of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, to unveil The Council’s new public awareness campaign designed to prevent underage drinking today at the Liquor Mart on Patrick Street.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers and dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, partnered with these organizations to unveil the new public awareness campaign designed to prevent underage drinking and discourage attempts to purchase alcohol by minors.

"Key to addressing the problem of underage drinking is having a sense for where youth obtain the alcohol they drink. In a recent survey commissioned by The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, we asked teens, 'Where do you get the alcohol that you drink?' 65% of the youth surveyed said that they got the alcohol they drink from family and friends, meaning they got it from their parents, their friends’ parents, older siblings or family members or older friends," said Beer.

"The good news is that over the past 20 years, the number of underage drinkers has decreased. For example, underage drinking among high school seniors has declined 29% proportionally from 70% in 1982 to 50% in 2001, according to government surveys. More work needs to be done, which is why I’m pleased The Foundation has brought this campaign to Charleston,"said Senator Sprouse.

"The Charleston Police Department is on the front lines of the battle against underage drinking every day. While it is certainly important to discourage underage sales, kids get alcohol from other sources, and kids can be very creative about obtaining alcohol. We all have a role to play in the fight against underage drinking,” said Chief Pauley. "Last year in West Virginia, there were 29 alcohol-related traffic fatalities among youth under 21, an increase of over 107% from the previous year. We will be working aggressively during spring season and throughout the entire year to keep alcohol out of our local teens’ hands."

"The West Virginia ABC Commission is pleased to be a part of this collaboration of retailers, distributors, and law enforcement, and proud to partner with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility to raise awareness and ensure that parents and permit holders have useful information to help fight underage drinking in West Virginia," said Gary Robinson.

Based on the recent survey data stating that 65% of youth who drink obtain alcohol from their family and friends, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, working with the American Beverage Licensees (ABL), created anew campaign that highlights the point of access to alcohol by underage youth and encourages parents to play a more active role in keeping alcohol out of the hands of our nation’s youth. The key component to the campaign is a 30-second Public Service Announcement, buttons and informational tip cards that provide tips for parents on how to talk with their kids about alcohol that will be distributed at the point of purchase.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is distributing this public service announcement to television stations in the Charleston area and has launched the campaign in 23 other markets nationwide. The campaign will continue to be rolled out in cities across the country through 2004.

Working with ABL, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility plans to make the new materials available to all members of the West Virginia beverage alcohol retail community. ABL members across the country will provide informational tip cards to parents on how to have an effective conversation about alcohol with their kids. Members of the organizations can request these materials for their retail outlets, bars and restaurants nationwide.

Michael Folio of North Central Distributors added, "Wholesalers and distributors are doing everything they can to prevent underage purchasing and therefore stop underage drinking. We encourage parents to join us and take an active role to keep our teens safe and alcohol-free during spring break, prom and graduation season. Parents, please talk to your teens- not just as they head out the door- but involve your teens in an active discussion about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving."

Since The Foundation’s inception in 1991, approximately 10 million pieces of point of sale items have been distributed free of charge to retailers and wholesalers nationwide. In fact, The Foundation’s point of sale materials have been distributed in all 50 states. Charleston is the 24th city to launch The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s latest campaign. For more information about the program, log onto The Foundation’s website at www.responsibility.org.

Launched in 1991, The Century Council is funded by America's leading distillers. The Foundation's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Foundation, log onto www.responsibility.org.
CONTACT: Leslie Kimball
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
via email