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Adults who sell alcohol to teens targeted

Cronkite News Service


Cronkite News Service

TEMPE – At a liquor store in the shadow of Arizona State University, Attorney General Terry Goddard on Tuesday launched a week-long public awareness campaign to combat underage drinking.

It’s part of a national campaign created by the Federal Trade Commission called “We Don’t Serve Teens Week,” targeting adults who serve alcohol to minors.

“This is appalling,” Goddard said. “Parents feel very strongly about this, but it’s other adults who are providing alcohol to their children.”

Goddard spoke at Top’s Liquors, which is known for its tough stand on sales to would-be buyers under 21. Owner Greg Eccles displayed dozens of fake driver’s licenses confiscated at the store.

Sixty-five percent of underage drinkers report getting alcohol from a friend or family member, according to a study by the Century Council. The council is a Washington-based organization funded by alcohol producers that is sponsoring the campaign.

“It’s not too late to sit down and talk to your son and daughter,” Goddard said. “Make sure that they know that what they’re doing is wrong and that it’s illegal.”

The campaign includes posters and stickers for retail stores that sell alcohol, as well as a series of public service announcements that will air on cable television and radio stations in Phoenix and Tucson.

The TV commercial addresses parents.

“You don’t have to see it to know it’s happening,” the screen reads as a young man coaxes an intoxicated young woman into having another drink.

A print advertisement reads, “Don’t give them an excuse. Talk to your teen about underage drinking. If you don’t, it’s just as irresponsible as putting a drink in their hands.”

Sixteen other states are participating in “We Don’t Serve Teens Week.”

Bill Weigele, president of the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, said retailers are constantly struggling to keep up with technology as young people find innovative ways to get past liquor store controls.

“In an age when a fake ID is prevalent and easy to get, it’s not easy for a retailer (to recognize them),” Weigele said.

Weigele cited data from the Century Foundation, which says that 7 percent of underage drinkers report getting their alcohol from inattentive liquor store clerks.

Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff said underage drinking is a serious community problem.

“We continue to experience tragedy in our roadways, and it’s simply unacceptable,” Ryff said.

“It’s our responsibility and it’s your responsibility to take this seriously.”

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