Columbia, SC — In advance of the July 4th Holiday, Attorney General Henry McMaster; Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County; Marlene Sipes, Executive Director, South Carolina Association of Beverage Retailers; Suzie Riga, Green’s Beverage; and Brian Fischer, Executive Director-Community Relations, Charmer Sunbelt Group; joined Jay Hibbard of 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, to launch a public awareness campaign designed to prevent underage drinking and discourage adults from providing alcohol to minors. The launch was held at Green’s Beverages on Assembly Street. “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, with or without permission,” said Hibbard. Based on the survey data stating that 65% of youth who drink obtain alcohol from their family and friends, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility created a campaign that highlights the point-of-access to alcohol by underage youth. The campaign 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 (PSA) available in English and Spanish, buttons and informational bilingual 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. “We are distributing tip cards in Columbia as an effort to encourage adults to talk to kids about the dangers of alcohol and underage drinking. Over fourteen percent of 12-17 year olds reported past month alcohol consumption in South Carolina,” said Attorney General McMaster. “I aim to encourage parents to communicate with their teens about the dangers of underage drinking in advance of the July 4th Holiday and throughout the year. The tips for parents include: be a good role model; disapprove of underage drinking; supervise your child including their online activities; reinforce that underage drinking is against the law.” “During the Forth of July holiday weekend last year, nearly 55% of all fatalities on our roads nationwide were alcohol-related. Parents must make it a top priority to discuss the dangers of underage drinking, yet parents and adults in our community must also act as good role models. Do not drive drunk this holiday weekend,” added Sheriff Lott. “I am 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 Suzie Riga. Marlene Sipes added, “Underage drinking is against the law in South Carolina. Period. The South Carolina Association of Beverage Retailers is proud to participate in today’s event. Underage drinking is a community problem. Working together, we can keep our children safe and alcohol-free.” The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility will distribute the public service announcements to television stations that serve Columbia and has launched the campaign in 57 other markets nationwide. The campaign will continue to be rolled out in cities across the country through 2005. “Elected officials, community groups, wholesalers, retailers, and most important, parents — all of us - need to work together to stop underage drinking in South Carolina. The Ben Arnold Beverage Company and the Charmer Sunbelt Group want to be part of that effort, which is why we are here today in support of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s campaign. We know that parents play a pivotal role in the success of this initiative. Together, we can save lives,” said Fischer. 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. Columbia is the 58th launch of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s latest campaign. For more information about the program, log onto The Foundation’s Web site at www.responsibility.org. Launched in 1991, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility 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.
Leslie Kimball
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility