Salt Lake City, UT —  To highlight April’s designation as Alcohol Awareness Month, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff joined The Century to announce a statewide initiative to fight underage drinking in Utah. The feature of the initiative is a new, innovative program developed by The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility in partnership with Nickelodeon — Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix — which recognizes that the key to stopping underage drinking is communication early and often between parents and children, and provides both kids and parents with information and strategies to help jumpstart the conversation about the dangers of underage drinking, in a format and language designed specifically for them.

At the launch event at Hunter Junior High School in West Valley City, Attorney General Shurtleff, Co-Chair of the Youth Access to Alcohol Task Force of the National Association of Attorneys General, was joined by Ralph Blackman, president of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility; Lori Gardner, president of the Utah Middle School Association and principal of Hunter Junior High School; Ken Wynn, Director of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC); and Lieutenant Tony Garcia of the Utah Highway Patrol Investigations Alcohol Enforcement Unit.

Following today’s launch, Attorney General Shurtleff and The Century Council will distribute Ask, Listen, Learn materials to middle school principals across the state. Additionally, television stations across Utah will broadcast a Public Service Announcement featuring Attorney General Shurtleff discussing the Ask, Listen, Learn program and the need to talk to teens about the dangers of underage drinking. For the month of April, the Utah ABC has placed a Billboard on Northbound I-15 Freeway at 9th South in Salt Lake City to remind parents about the importance of talking with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking.

“According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most kids try alcohol for their first time at the age of 12. This means we have a clear window of time to delay that first drink. I believe that Ask, Listen, Learn is an effective tool to reduce underage drinking and start healthy conversations between parents and their children,” said Attorney General Shurtleff.

“While alcohol consumption among our nation’s youth continues to decline, underage drinking remains unacceptably high. According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 10.9 million Americans between the ages of 12-20 report current alcohol use. While the prevalence of current alcohol use increased with increasing age, the alarming fact is first use of alcohol typically begins around age 12. By 16, 29 percent report current use of alcohol,” said Blackman.

Whether or not they realize it, parents are the leading influence on kids’ decision not to drink alcohol. According to the 2003 Omnibuzz survey conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, 65 percent of adolescents identify parents as the leading influence in their decision not to drink.

“Among 12-17 year olds in Utah, 10.2% reported past month alcohol consumption in 2002. Though we do not want any of our underage youth to consume alcohol, not to mention that it is illegal, the good news is the figure represents a decrease of 4% from the previous survey in 2000 and we must work together to continue this downward trend and keep kids safe and alcohol-free,” said Wynn.

Lori Gardner added, “when parents are significantly involved with their children’s lives, especially during the middle school years, the use of alcohol is delayed. Since it is also clear from research that parents are still the most influential people to a child in middle school relative to health behaviors, parents remain our best hope for assuring that young people stay alcohol-free.”

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is grateful to the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Latino Children’s Institute, the National Middle School Association and U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for providing scientific input for use in creating Ask Listen Learn.

Ask, Listen, Learn is unique in that it gives both kids and parents the tools to initiate the conversation about alcohol. The program includes:

• A parent’s booklet, detailing how to begin the conversation, sustain the conversation and make an impact on kids. It presents effective questions, data, conversation starters and answers to typical objections kids raise.
• A kid’s booklet, with interactive games, trivia cards with questions and answers explaining the facts about alcohol (over 7 million trading cards are expected to circulate), addressing issues including how to avoid peer pressure, and creative ways to say no. It also includes an Action Against Alcohol Agreement that both kids and parents can sign.
• Asklistenlearn.com, produced by Nickelodeon, is a website for kids with information on the dangers of underage drinking including monthly polls, information interactive games and videos, as well as more information on how to say no.
• Asklistenlearnparents.com, produced by Nickelodeon, is a website for parents with additional information on how to have the conversation and links to additional national and local resources related to underage drinking.

Coming in the future
Recognizing the important role that teachers, counselors and administrators play as role models and purveyors of information, The Council will also begin work on a teacher-focused component to the program for distribution nationwide. Also, in an effort to provide Spanish speaking parents and kids with culturally sensitive resources to help them fight underage drinking, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility will develop program components in Spanish.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
Launched in 1991, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding drinking or non-drinking of beverage alcohol and to discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement, and other programs. Recognizing over thirteen years of progress, America’s leading distillers have promoted The Foundation’s mission by investing more than $130 million in its programs to fight drunk driving and underage drinking. For more information about Ask, Listen, Learn™ or The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, or to order a copy of the program free-of-charge, please visit www.asklistenlearnparents.com or www.responsibility.org.

Nickelodeon, which is celebrating its landmark 25th anniversary this year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in 88 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for more than eight consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.

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