Savannah, GA — In advance of Prom and Graduation Season, Representative Edward “Mickey” Stephens (D-124); Sergeant Tommy Tillman, Chatham County Sheriff’s Department; Stony McGill, Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association; Ronald D. Johnson, Georgia Department of Revenue, Alcohol and Tobacco Division; Gordon Johnson, National Distributing Company; and Chuck Fountain, Habersham Beverage Warehouse; joined Jay Hibbard of The Century Council today to launch The Council’s new public awareness campaign designed to prevent underage drinking at Habersham Beverage Warehouse on Abercorn Street.
The Century Council, 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 Century Council, 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 Hibbard.
"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’ve invited The Council to bring their campaign to Savannah," said Representative Stephens.
"In Georgia last year among youth under 21, there were 72 alcohol-related traffic fatalities, a decrease of nearly 21% from 2001 to 2002. While those numbers show improvement, even one fatality is one too many. Let's work together to keep our roads safe this season," said Sergeant Tillman.
"Nearly one-third of youth under 21 killed in traffic crashes died in alcohol-related crashes during April, May, and June—prom and graduation season—according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2002 alone, 2,902 youth under the age of 21 died in alcohol-related crashes, and 711 died during the months of April, May, and June, clearly a particularly dangerous time for our nation’s youth," said added Hibbard.
Based on the recent survey data, The Century Council, working with the American Beverage Licensees (ABL), created a new 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.
"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 McGill. "We are pleased to partner with The Century Council and ABL to bring this awareness campaign to Savannah."
The Century Council is distributing this public service announcement to television stations in Savannah and has launched the campaign in 30 other markets nationwide. The campaign will continue to be rolled out in cities across the country through 2004.
Ronald D. Johnson added, "Our Division is on the front lines of the battle against underage drinking every day. We all must redouble our efforts to stop underage drinking. We want to keep our teens safe and alcohol-free, during prom and graduation season and throughout the year."
Working with ABL, The Century Council plans to make the new materials available to all members of the Savannah 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.
"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 Savannah. We want to be a part of that fight, which is why we are here today in support of The Century Council’s new campaign. We hope parents in Savannah will answer an overwhelming 'Yes!' when asked 'Are you doing your part?'" said Gordon Johnson.
"As the owner of Habersham Beverage Warehouse, I’m proud to participate in today’s event and show that I stand ready to fight against the dangers of underage drinking. I plan to distribute the tip cards and proudly wear my 65% button to reinforce how seriously we are about preventing underage purchasing and underage drinking," said Fountain.
Since The Council’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 Council’s point of sale materials have been distributed in all 50 states. Savannah is the 31st city to launch The Century Council’s latest campaign. For more information about the program, log onto The Council’s website at www.centurycouncil.org.
The Century Council