Ridgeland, MS —  In advance of the winter holiday season, Representative Rita Martinson; Mark Hicks, Mississippi Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control; Brian Fischer, Charmer Sunbelt Group; Chief Jimmy Houston, Ridgeland Police Department; Toby Trowbridge, Madison County Sheriff; Joel Shows, Joe T's Package Store; joined Shannon Adams of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by the nation’s leading distillers, to launch a public awareness campaign to prevent underage drinking. The new initiative developed by The Federal Trade Commission and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility called "We Don’t Serve Teens," is designed to inform adults that providing underage youth with alcohol is unsafe, illegal, and irresponsible. The launch took place at Joe T's Package Store on Hwy 51.

"We are unveiling our 'We Don't Serve Teens' campaign today to help prevent underage purchases and consumption of alcohol not only during the holiday season, but also throughout the year. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has found that nearly one in five (17%) adults believe it is acceptable for parents to provide alcohol to their teenagers in their own home. It is our hope this campaign will encourage parents to start and continue a dialogue with their teen about the dangers of underage drinking. Turning a blind eye is as irresponsible as putting a drink in their hands," said Shannon Adams of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

To determine parents' perspective on the issue of adults providing alcohol to underage youth, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults. The results show that overwhelmingly, parents do not believe it is acceptable for other adults to provide beverage alcohol to underage youth. Ninety-six percent of adults said it is unacceptable for another parent or other adult to provide alcohol to their teenager without their permission. Further, all survey respondents said if they learned another parent or adult provided alcohol to their teenager without their permission, they would consider taking recourse against the other parent, or their child.

The top actions adults would take include:

  • Speaking with my child about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking (93%)
  • Call that adult and express my objections, feelings and opinions (86%)
  • Restrict my child's time at that family's house (80%)
  • Limit my child's relationship with that family (76%)
  • Notify other parents (74%)
  • Punish my own child (69%)

Other actions adults report they would take if such an incident occurred include calling the police (44%), reporting the incident to the school (40%), and taking legal action, such as file charges, sue them, etc. (34%).

"Study after study shows that youth are obtaining the alcohol they drink from people they know," said Representative Martinson. "You may find it surprising that data shows that kids cite their parents as the leading influence over their decision to drink — or not to drink — alcohol. What better time to talk to your kids than the holiday season, when opportunities abound. When you talk, they really do listen."

"Among 12-20 year olds, more than 23 percent reported past month alcohol consumption in Mississippi," said Hicks. "Protecting the safety, particularly the safety of our city's most precious resource — our young people — is a top priority for the commission. Restaurants, wholesalers, retailers — all of us — need to play a role in the fight against underage drinking, to lower, and hopefully eliminate, underage drinking in Ridgeland."

"The Charmer Sunbelt Group is committed to the legal and responsible sales and consumption of beverage alcohol, and we explore opportunities for and encourage our associates, retailers and various other industry associations to play an active role in social responsibility in their respective communities," said Brian Fischer. "Our goal is to ensure that licensed establishments do not provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. We're doing our part to stop underage drinking and we want to encourage parents to do the same at home."

"While it is certainly important to discourage underage sales, kids get alcohol from other sources, and kids can be very creative about obtaining alcohol," said Chief Houston. "Last year in Mississippi, 144 youths under the age of 18 were arrested for driving under the influence, 330 youths were arrested for liquor law violations, and 191 youths were arrested for drunkenness. We will be working aggressively during the holiday season and throughout the entire year to keep alcohol out of our local teens' hands."

"We are working hard to ensure that teens do not have access to alcohol. But we can't do it alone," said Trowbridge. "We encourage parents to be good role models, let your teen know you disapprove of underage drinking, and supervise their activities. Parents, retail establishments, community groups — we all have a role to play in the fight against underage drinking."

"I am on the front lines of the battle against underage drinking every day in my role at Joe T's Package Store. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility's 'We Don't Serve Teens' campaign is just one of the many examples of how we can work to prevent underage drinking and purchasing of alcohol here in Mississippi," said Shows. "I am proud to wear my lapel pin and we have posted the 'We Don't Serve Teens' materials throughout the store to display how committed we are to fighting underage drinking and keeping Ridgeland's teens safe."

Working with the Federal Trade Commission and other national organizations including The National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA), The American Beverage Licensees (ABL), and The Charmer Sunbelt Group, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility will distribute point of purchase materials to retailers and community organizations across the nation as a reminder to parents and other adults that providing alcohol to teens can mean serious consequences and to encourage them to speak up about underage drinking. Elements of the campaign include television and radio public service announcement, print ad, lapel pins, cold case stickers, register signs, and ceiling danglers.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility will distribute the public service announcement to television stations that serve Hattiesburg, Ridgeland, and Tupelo, and has launched the campaign in three other markets nationwide so far. The campaign will continue to be rolled out in cities across the country through 2007. For more information on the campaign or to order materials visit www.dontserveteens.gov or www.responsibility.org.
CONTACT: Leslie Kimball
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
via email