Letters to the Editor

Program aims to make alcohol less available to teens

While Oak Harbor teens know that drinking regularly carries risk, they also think that alcohol is easy to get, according to a recent survey.

For that reason, the Oak Harbor Youth Commission is participating in the Let’s Draw the Line program, supported by a $1,000 state grant aimed at limiting teen access to alcohol.

“As a community we are to be reminded that underage drinking is associated with greater risk for addiction, traffic crashes, violence, school failure, risky sexual behavior, depression and suicide,” said Susan Strom, substance abuse prevention coordinator for the county.

Island County Human Services is working with the Oak Harbor Youth Commission to administer the program. The commission reached out to all of Oak Harbor alcohol retailers to ensure their commitment to checking identification.

The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey is a comprehensive questionnaire that identifies health and well-being trends of a given community. It’s administered every two years in the public schools.

Data from the 2012 survey in Oak Harbor shows that while some youth drink alcohol, the largest majority of Oak Harbor youth think “regular drinking isn’t cool” and understand that “regular drinking is risky.”

Still, the majority of students perceive that alcohol “is easy to get,” according to the survey.

Strom said even though students are facing tough choices, the community can help them make responsible ones.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that the youth of Oak Harbor are leaders, creative, athletic, smart, spirited, resilient and trying hard to walk a path that has meaning to them,” Strom said.

“It is the intention and commitment of the Oak Harbor Youth Commission, local law enforcement and local retailers, through these grants, to making that path a bit safer.”

Ten retailers are participating in the program: 7-Eleven North, 7-Eleven South, Albertson’s, AM/PM, DK Market, Liberty Market, SAARs, Walgreens, Walmart and Westview Mart.

The stores are displaying a blue Let’s Draw the Line window cling to show their support.

Employees at these retailers will receive regular training on responsible alcohol sales, and appropriate placement of products and advertisement of alcohol will also be considered.

Youth who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to have alcohol problems when they are adults, according to the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking.

It is illegal to sell, give or provide alcohol to minors or allow them to consume alcohol on one’s premises or any premises under ones control — including vehicles and watercraft -— according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

Providing alcohol to minors could result in up to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail.

Minors found in possession could be fined $5,000 and receive up to one year in jail; using a fake ID could result in $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail, and buying or attempting to purchase alcohol could result in $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.


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