Effort aims to curb underage drinking

ESCANABA – Local youth, adults and law enforcement are teaming up to prevent underage drinking by reminding people of the legal consequences of buying alcohol for minors.

Through a “Sticker Shock” program, warnings have been placed on multi-packs of alcoholic beverages reminding customers in local stores that buying for minors is a crime.

As a community service, members of the Rapid River Horse Crazy 4-H Club placed the warning stickers on alcoholic beverages at Elmer’s County Market on Monday.

The program is organized by Public Health Delta and Menominee Counties, explained Ruth Botbyl, prevention specialist at the health department.

“This project, developed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, aims to reach those individuals who are over 21 years of age who legally purchase alcohol and then provide it to a minor,” Botbyl stated.

Botbyl described the sticker program as a unique opportunity for youth, adults, police and local retailers to take a stand to reduce underage drinking.

Underage drinking is not only against the law, it’s associated with many health and social problems for youth, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption contributes to the death of more than 4,700 underage youth – persons less than 21 years old – in the nation each year, noted Botbyl.

Lexi Mayers, 12, of Gladstone, was among five girls from the local 4-H club placing the bright yellow stickers on alcoholic beverages at Elmer’s.

“Hopefully, people will see the stickers and spread the message,” she said.

Caitlyn Gimler, 14, of Rapid River, hopes the warnings will prevent the purchase of alcohol for minors. In the long run, she hopes the program helps youth stop from drinking and getting into problems when they’re older like alcoholism and drunk driving.

Public Safety Officer Sgt. Jamie Silverstone accompanied the youth and adult chaperones who were participating in the sticker program.

“This is a way the younger generation can be a positive role model for their friends,” the officer commented. “Adults can also learn from these teens who are trying to prevent underage drinking and the tragedies associated with it.”

The stickers placed on the alcoholic beverages state that it is a crime in Michigan to sell or provide alcohol to a minor. Lawbreakers can face up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for the first conviction.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net