Birmingham, AL — In advance of Prom and Graduation Season, Dr. Doris Oliveria, Alabama ABC Board; Chester Weeks, Assistant Administrator, Alabama ABC; Jan Byrne, Director, Responsible Vendor Program, Alabama ABC; Greg Shiver, Compliance Specialist, Alabama ABC; and Lt. Mike Jones, Alabama ABC Law Enforcement Division; joined Jay Hibbard of The Century Council today to launch The Council's new public awareness campaign designed to prevent underage drinking at the Birmingham ABC Store on Finley Boulevard. 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 the Alabama ABC 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 we invited The Council to bring their campaign to Birmingham," said Dr. Oliveria. "In Alabama last year among youth under 21, there were 65 alcohol-related traffic fatalities, a decrease of nearly 2% from 2001 to 2002, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)," said Lt. Jones. "During Prom and Graduation Season (April, May, June), there were 707 alcohol-related traffic fatalities among youths under 21. This is clearly a particularly dangerous time for our nation's youth; Let's work together to keep our roads safe this season." 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 Weeks. "We are pleased to partner with The Century Council to bring this awareness campaign to Birmingham." The Century Council is distributing this public service announcement to television stations in Birmingham and has launched the campaign in over 31 other markets nationwide. The campaign will continue to be rolled out in cities across the country through 2004. Greg Shiver added, "The Alabama ABC 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 Birmingham 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. "The entire community has a role to play in the fight against underage drinking to lower, and hopefully eliminate, underage drinking in Birmingham. 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 Birmingham will answer an overwhelming 'Yes!' when asked 'Are you doing your part?'" said Jan Byrne. "The Alabama ABC is proud to participate in today's event to show that we stand ready to fight against the dangers of underage drinking. As part of our Responsible Vendor program, we plan to distribute the tip cards and proudly wear my 65% button to reinforce how serious we are about preventing underage purchasing and underage drinking." 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. Birmingham is the 32nd 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.
CONTACT: Leslie Kimball The Century Council 202-637-0077 via email