FTC Campaign to Help Prevent Teen Drinking During Summer Months

From CADCA’s Coalitions Online (www.cadca.org/coalitionsonline)…

To teens, the word “summer” means freedom. School is out and teens have more time with friends, often with reduced supervision. Unfortunately, summer is a time when teens are at high risk to start drinking – and when teen drunk-driving deaths are at their highest. A new campaign by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) aims to protect teens during the high risk summer months.


The We Don’t Serve Teens (“WDST”) campaign targets easy teen access to alcohol with the reminder, “Let’s make it a safe summer. Don’t serve alcohol to teens.” A centerpiece of the campaign, which was launched June 10, is a Web site, http://www.dontserveteens.gov/safesummer.html, that provides information about underage drinking and camera-ready campaign materials that prevention organizations can use in their communities. Web banners and buttons, downloadable posters and public service announcements, and sample letters to the editor and opinion pieces are among the components.

Janet Evans, an attorney with the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices, said the campaign will remind parents and other adults that it’s important that they not serve alcohol to teens.

“Most kids get alcohol either from other kids at parties, they steal it from parents’ liquor cabinets or from older friends or adults,” Evans explained. “We really need to get the message out to parents and other adults that you shouldn’t be sabotaging other parents’ efforts to protect their children by serving teens alcohol.”

Evans said many adults turn a blind eye to their teen’s drinking, despite the fact that the legal drinking age has been 21 for almost a quarter of a century.

“Every year, some kid dies in someone else’s house because of alcohol poisoning. We really need to get better buy in from parents about the 21 drinking age,” she noted.

To that end, the new site includes information to help dispel common myths about youth drinking. Here are a few of the myths the Web site addresses:

A national legal drinking age just makes alcohol “forbidden fruit” that kids try harder to get.
The Truth: Teen drinking has been substantially reduced since Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, making it illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase alcohol.

The legal drinking age in Europe is younger than it is in the United States, and European kids don’t seem to have the same degree of alcohol-related problems as American kids. Maybe the U.S. drinking age should be lowered. The Truth: A recent National Institutes of Health publication shows that European countries with lower drinking ages have the same teen drinking problems as the U.S., or worse.

It’s better to hold the party at my house, so my kids and their friends aren’t out driving.

The Truth: Letting other families’ kids drink in your house undermines their parents and in many states violates the law. Drunk driving isn’t the only danger associated with teen drinking, and you can’t guarantee that your teen guests won’t drive after they leave your house. Rather than providing a place where kids can drink, offer non-alcoholic choices.

For more information about the new campaign and to download materials, visit: http://www.dontserveteens.gov/safesummer.html.

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