The debate about the regulation of liquor continues

Today at noon, KUOW’s The Conversation will focus on the latest liquor privatization initiative.  As the debate about the regulation of alcohol in Washington continues, public health and underage drinking-related concerns should be considered.  Following are some resources to help inform the debate.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Task Force on Community Preventive Services recently recommended against further privatization.

• The UW Alcohol and Drug Institute (ADAI) developed a brief providing background information on privatization issues.

• Last week, I updated the coalition website to include information about privatization. I will continue to update it as more information becomes available.

The full initiative may be viewed online.

PTA program educates parents about the legal ramifications of serving alcohol to teens

The Washington State PTA's Parent Pledge program is an awareness campaign designed to educate parents about the legal ramifications as well as the health and safety risks associated with serving alcohol to teens other than their own children.

PTA Parent Pledge resources that are available online are:
Parents Who Host Lose the Most is a similar campaign that is used throughout the country with a focus on social host laws.  Washington does not have a social host liability law.  However, the Washington State Supreme Court did rule that social hosts who serve alcohol to minors can be held liable for resulting harms to the minor who was served but are not liable for injuries the minor may inflict on third parties. 

Washington State does prohibit furnishing alcohol to minors.  However, parents/guardians may furnish alcohol to their own children.  

Want more information?  The Alcohol Policy Information System contains detailed information about alcohol policy, including policy related to minors. 

Take back your meds bookmarks

Just in time for National Night Out neighborhood events, the local Take Back Your Meds campaign has made available bookmarks promoting prescription drug take-back programs. 


The majority of Roosevelt High School students do not drink alcohol or use marijuana

Earlier today, I posted information about substance abuse rates among Nathan Hale High School sophomores and seniors.  Below are two charts that show the substance abuse rates among Roosevelt 10th and 12th grade students between 2006-10

Since 2006, current alcohol use rates declined significantly among Roosevelt sophomores and seniors.   All rates are now below 50% . . . this means that the majority of Roosevelt students do not drink alcohol or use marijuana.

Source: Washington State Healthy Youth Survey

The majority of Nathan Hale High School students do not drink alcohol or use marijuana

In an earlier post, I reported that underage drinking rates among northeast Seattle high school students (Nathan Hale and Roosevelt High Schools) have decreased significantly since 2006.  Below are two charts that show the substance abuse rates among Nathan Hale 10th and 12th grade students between 2006-10.

Among Nathan Hale sophomores, use of all substances and binge drinking declined since 2006.  All substance abuse (except for the abuse of prescription painkillers) declined since 2008 among Hale seniors.

All rates are now below 50% . . . this means that the marjority of Hale students do not drink alcohol or use marijuana.   

Source: Washington State Healthy Youth Survey

Adolescents' alcoholic beverage preferences are shifting from beer to distilled spirits

Distilled spirits are becoming more popular among adolescent drinkers and are challenging beer as the alcoholic beverage most likely consumed by underage drinkers, especially among youth who report binge drinking, according to a recent Health and Human Services report to Congress.  Flavored alcoholic beverages are also popular.

The charts above show the alcoholic beverages of choice among female and male high school seniors who drink.  The red line represents flavored alcoholic beverages, the dark blue line represents beer, and the light blue line with squares represents distilled spirits. 

According to the report, beverage preferences vary somewhat by state.  Data from four states indicated that, among high school students who reported binge drinking, liquor was the most prevalent alcoholic beverage type.

Alcohol marketing influences adolescent binge drinking

Two-thirds of underage drinkers report having a favorite brand of alcohol, according to the results of a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.  Hard alcohol brands were identified as favorites as often as beer.  "Brands preferred by youth tended to have high advertising expenditures, and choosing a favorite brand was associated with binge drinking." 

The article concludes, "The correlation between underage drinkers' brand preference and marketing expenditures suggests a marketing influence on choice of beverage. Moreover, higher rates of binge drinking among adolescents who named a favorite brand suggest that alcohol advertising campaigns may influence the likelihood that alcohol will be consumed at levels that pose a risk to health."

More about alcohol marketing and youth is available at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth's website.

Preventing prescription drug abuse among adolescents

Join Together recently interviewed a nationally recognized scholar on prescription drug abuse and adolescents.  Following are some excerpts from that interview:

In response to a question about why prescription drugs are becoming a problem among teens:

It is not entirely clear why prescription medication misuse and abuse has increased, while other forms of drug use have decreased. However, several issues appear to be interacting to create this problem. These include: increased availability due to increases in prescribing controlled medications to adolescents; perceptions that prescription drugs generally are safer than street drugs; changing attitudes toward the use of medications because of direct-to-consumer marketing (DTC) and the Internet, where adolescents can quickly learn about medications and how to use them to self-treat and get high.

In response to a question about the role parents play in preventing prescription drug abuse:

I believe that parental monitoring is the “key” to reducing the nonmedical use of prescription medications in ages 12 to 17 years. Our data show that general parental supervision is associated with lower rates of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use; however this is not true for the nonmedical use of prescription medication. We speculate reasons for this: (1) parents are unaware of the potential problem and do not supervise the storage of controlled medications (and thus, they are available to household members) and (2) parents engage in nonmedical use and do not consider it a problem.

In response to a question about the challenges of preventing prescription drug abuse in comparison to preventing illegal drug abuse:

This question is difficult to answer because of a lack of prospective data. It is well established that illicit drug use moves in social and behavioral patterns, with individual drugs gaining and losing popularity among adolescents. However, this ebb and flow is not true for alcohol, which remains a very popular substance.

Because prescription medications share social characteristics with alcohol (e.g. legal for certain groups, relatively safe in small doses, etc.), nonmedical use may be more similar to alcohol misuse/abuse. Our society promotes the legal use of both alcohol and controlled medications; we are one of a very few countries that allow the television marketing of controlled medications.

How do underage drinkers access alcohol?

The Prevention WINS Retail Outreach Workgroup met earlier this week and continued planning for conducting alcohol purchase surveys (APS).  The APS will help the coalition better understand the role grocery stores, convenience stores, and other stores that sell beer and wine play in minor's access to alcohol.

The Washington State Healthy Youth Survey includes a question about alcohol access: During the past thirty days how did you usually get alcohol? (Choose all that apply.)  Most northeast Seattle high school students said that they did not get alcohol in the past month. Those students that said that they do drink alcohol, said they got it the following ways:

I got it from friends -- 50.0%

I got it at a party -- 39.3%

I gave money to someone to get it for me -- 23.6%

I got it at home with my parents’ permission -- 15.7%

I bought it from a store -- 15.0%

I took it from home without my parents’ permission -- 12.2%

I got it some other way -- 11.4%

I got it from an older brother or sister -- 9.3%

I got it at a family celebration, ceremony, or party -- 7.8% 

Focus groups conducted with northeast Seattle high school students confirm these findings about how teenagers access alcohol. The most common answer focus group participants gave was that teenagers get alcohol from friends who are older and/or look older.  

But the answers to the HYS questions do not tell us how the friends got the alcohol; if the person they gave money to is someone they know and if that person is 21 or older; or how the alcohol got to the party.  It could be that all three ways cited in the HYS are really only one way: teenagers bring alcohol to parties after buying it with money their friends gave them.  Maybe the 15% of kids who say they bought it from a store are supplying most of the alcohol to the rest of the underage drinkers.  Our coalition chose to do alcohol purchase surveys, in part, to help us answer some of our questions about access.

A few years ago, our coalition tried to get the liquor license revoked from a convenience store near Eckstein Middle School.  The store had a long, documented, history of selling to minors.  Knowing that they sold to minors, and hearing from kids in focus groups that there are certain mini-marts that are easy to buy from, the coalition chose the APS strategy to gain more information.  (A “reward & reminder” component is included as a prevention strategy.)  If it turns out that the convenience store near Eckstein is an anomaly, that the vast majority of convenience stores in our community do not sell to minors, then we can cross off retail access, collect more local access-related data, and start looking at other strategies that have proven to reduce youth access to alcohol.

The Retail Outreach Workgroup will meet again on August 30.  All coalition meetings are open to anyone interested in preventing underage drinking and youth substance abuse.

Medical marijuana dispensaries in NE Seattle

A few weeks ago, someone asked me how many medical marijuana dispensaries exist in northeast Seattle.  A recent post on the Maple Leaf Life blog, From green to gray -- a look at medical marijuana in north Seattle, provides an answer.

Youth drug use at Laurelhurst Park

A recent post to the Laurelhurst Blog describes the ongoing parties at Laurelhurst Park.  Following is an excerpt:

We regularly smell cigarette and marijuana smoke coming from that direction and have seen kids (only boys although that doesn’t mean girls haven’t been there) running up there with backpacks on (often coming on bike or scooter and even out walking their dog in daylight). They tuck deep in the corner and have complete coverage.

Currently there are broken beer bottles, in-tact bottles as well as a strong smell of urine.

If people are missing their junior high boys, I suspect they’d find them here… I’d guess these kids are junior high or early high school.
On Friday, I posted information to this blog about underage drinking parties at Magnuson and Golden Gardens.

Underage drinking research . . . and more research

Today, I went searching (online) for the journal link to an article I read about teen binge drinking and how it may impair the developing brain

However, when I visited the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research website, I was side-tracked by the article entitled: Effects of Energy Drinks Mixed with Alcohol on Behavioral Control: Risks for College Students Consuming Trendy Cocktails

The article caught my eye mostly because I had just finished reading: Teenagers prefer drinks with caffeine.

To try to get back on track, I re-visited the article about the developing brain but was, again, side-tracked by a link to the Mediline Plus webpage that contains multiple links to underage drinking-related websites

One of those links is to: Media influence on adolescent alcohol use on the Archives of American Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine's website. 

Some say we are living in the Information Age.  Considering I am sharing all of this information through a blog, and that I gleaned it within 20 minutes, I tend to agree. 

How parents influence adolescent substance abuse

While I was doing some research for the Social Marketing Workgroup's (SMW) action plan, I found a report entitled, "Family Ties: How Parents Influence Adolescent Substance Abuse".  It clearly explains why certain parenting practices are effective in preventing youth substance abuse.

One of the parenting practices that the SMW will be promoting is monitoring teenage children.  According to the report:  Support and control have been identified by researchers as two complementary components of parenting (Barnes and Farrell, 1992). The construct of support includes areas such as nurturance, attachment, acceptance, and love, whereas the construct of control includes discipline, supervision, and monitoring. Monitoring has further been defined as parental knowledge of their child’s companions, whereabouts, and activities . . . High levels of parental monitoring are associated with low frequencies of drinking and illicit drug use.
According to community parent surveys conducted by Prevention WINS in 2008 and 2010, while NE Seattle parents talk to their children about not using alcohol and/or marijuana, many do not monitor their teenage children. 

Most NE Seattle parents talk to their children about not using drugs and alcohol

The coalition's Social Marketing Workgroup met earlier this week and, using data from the Healthy Youth Survey and community parent surveys, started identifying possible messages for our campaign targeting parents.  Messages need to be refined, but following is what we ware starting with.

1. Most Eckstein Middle School/Hale High School/Roosevelt High School students do not drink or use drugs. Parents can support them by:
• monitoring medications in your home
• telling them that you are proud that they don’t use drugs
• provide them with opportunities to positively contribute to home life

2. Most NE Seattle parents talk to their children about not using drugs and alcohol. Follow up with rewards and consequences. Kids who know there will be rewards for not using and consequences if they do use are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.

3. Most NE Seattle parents think drug and alcohol use by teenagers is not okay. Get to know your child’s friend’s parents – it’s likely they want to know you, too. Talk to them about your family’s rules about drugs and alcohol – it’s likely that they agree with you.

Police report that parties at parks continue

During the coalition's Advocacy Workgroup meeting earlier this week, a Seattle Police Officer reported that large underage drinking parties continue to occur at Magnuson Park. 

On the last day of school, Seattle Police broke up a large party at Magnuson Park.  Despite a warning posted at a nearby high school that police would be conducting alcohol emphasis patrols on the last day of school, more than 100 minors were at the party.  If stickers on cars can be relied on for identification purposes, most minors were students at the nearby high school.  The officer noted that many high school students also participate in underage drinking parties at Golden Gardens.  Alcohol has been a factor contributing to recent violent incidents at the park.

The Advocacy Workgroup continues to plan for meeting with local policy makers about the implementation of laws already on the books regarding youth alcohol and marijuana use.  Short-term plans include meeting with City and County council members who serve on health and safety-related committees. 

Save the date to celebrate decreasing underage drinking rates

Since 2006, underage drinking rates among NE Seattle 10th grade students have decreased by 13-18%.  The community is invited to help Prevention WINS celebrate healthy youth on October 10 at Nathan Hale High School.  Stay tuned for more information!

Despite CDC recommendation against further liquor privatization, debate continues in WA

Backers of the latest liquor privatization initiative funded a paid-signature drive and turned in petitions today  I-1183 is similar to two measures to privatize state liquor sales that failed last November. I-1105 was rejected by 63% of voters and I-1100 was tossed out by 53%.
In February, the federal Centers for Disease Control’s Task Force on Community Preventive Services recommended against further privatization of alcohol sales “based on strong evidence that privatization results in increased per capita alcohol consumption, a well-established proxy for excessive consumption.”
"Privatization may be associated with increased alcohol advertising, increases in the number of brands sold, and more lax enforcement of sales regulations, including enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age. In contrast, privatization also has generally been associated with an increase in the price of privatized beverages, which may be expected to lead to a decrease in consumption."

Juice box cocktails

What's the difference between these two beverages?

They both come in brightly colored aluminum pouches.

They both come with little straws.

They both contain (at least some) fruit juice.

But one of them is a "ready to drink cocktail". 

A comment posted on the Marin Institute's web page about this product states that selling alcohol in juice boxes is no different than selling beer in the same kind of cans in which soda-pop is sold.

And, the website about the cocktail says that the manufacturer "does not promote or encourage the use of alcoholic beverages; this alcoholic beverage is not intended for the consumption by minors. We are committed to advertising and promoting the brand in a responsible manner."

What do you think?  Is this another example of marketing alcohol to minors or is this beverage being marketed to adults who want the convenience and fun of drinking alcohol through a juice box straw?

July coalition meetings

Social Marketing Workgroup Meeting
Monday, July 11, 2011
7-8:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital, Giraffe Starbucks
4800 Sand Point Way NE

Advocacy Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Noon-1:30 p.m.
Seattle Children's Roosevelt Commons, Room 5520
4300 Roosevelt Way NE

Retail Outreach Workgroup Meeting
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
10:30 a.m. - Noon
Seattle Children's Administration Building
NE 70th & Sand Point Way NE

Other coalition meetings are listed on the Prevention WINS website