ATLANTAâ€š GA - Alcohol kills more youth in Georgia than all illegal drugs combined. Contributing factors of underage drinking include easy access, high availability, advertising and marketing that targets or appeals to youth audiences, boasts a low price, and social norms supporting drinking as a rite of passage.
Chuck Wade is the President and CEO of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, a 44-year-old non-profit alcohol and drug prevention agency. Mr. Wade’s background includes 15 years as a police officer, working undercover as a narcotics agent for 11 of those years. During that time he had firsthand experience witnessing the devastation that drugs and alcohol can cause in people’s lives, stating that, “45% of the violent crime that happened in my jurisdiction back then was committed by people under the age of 21. At least 50% of the time they were under the influence of alcohol.”
The Georgia Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) recently awarded a $86,912 grant to The Council on Alcohol and Drugs to prevent and reduce underage drinking by providing a Compliance Checks Public Service Announcement Media Campaign. This Campaign will alert alcohol retailers in ten counties with high rates of selling alcohol to underage youth about the dangers and consequences of doing so. In partnership with local law enforcement and with support from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, the Alcohol Compliance Checks and Public Services Announcements Media Campaign will work to prevent the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21. The campaign will improve retailers’ and the public’s awareness of this issue by delivering compliance check PSAs via radio broadcasts in the following ten counties that have high rates of selling alcohol to underage youth:
- Bulloch County
- Camden County
- Clayton County
- Cobb County
- DeKalb County
- Henry County
- Richmond County
- Stephens County
- Treutlen County
- Towns County
The grant also provides for an Alcohol Compliance Checks webpage on the StopAlcoholUnder21.org website. Please let others in your area know about the website designed to educate retailers.
In 2010, the Governor’s Office for Children and Families first asked the Council on Alcohol and Drugs to look at the problem of alcohol retailers selling alcohol to underage youth. The Council partnered with the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Underage Alcohol Investigative Group to implement an Alcohol Compliance Checks Media Campaign in four Georgia counties to alert alcohol retailers of the dangers and consequences of selling alcohol to minors. The four counties listed below were selected as the pilot group for this initial campaign. Paid radio PSA ads aired for a two month period from June 1, 2010 — July 30, 2010 and newspaper ads ran concurrently for an eight week period. The following outcomes were achieved:
- Brantley County: 100% noncompliance reduced to 5.5%
- Terrell County: 100% noncompliance reduced to 6.3%
- Treutlen County: 66.7% noncompliance reduced to 0%
- Grady County: 57.1% noncompliance reduced to 22%
The Council on Alcohol & Drugs has identified local radio stations having the greatest listenership in each target county and, in the case of target counties with very small populations, in the surrounding counties as well. For a period of sixteen weeks thirty second radio PSAs that emphasize the importance of avoiding the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of twenty-one will be broadcast.
This project is supported by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Points of view or opinions stated in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families or the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
For more information about the program, please contact Kay M. Manning, LCSW, MAC at The Council on Alcohol and Drugs at [email protected] or at 770) 725-1837.