A new card aims to decrease underage drinking
COLUMBIA - As prom and graduation seasons approach, underage drinking has become a hot topic in schools and amongst the community in general.
The "You Card We Care" initiative's main goal is to encourage local retailers to help prevent underage alcohol and tobacco use. The Youth Community Coalition is now inviting and encouraging the general public to participate in the initiative going forward.
You Card We Care believes that positive reinforcement to local retail cashiers who ID for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco is a good start to minimizing the problem.
People would carry the You Card We Care card and acknowledge cashiers who ID for alcohol and tobacco purchases by giving them an appreciation card. Cashiers could get cards for asking to see an I.D. of the participant him/herself or a customer at a nearby table or cash register or someone in the check-out line.
Ron Rowe, Youth Community Coalition coordinator, said the initiative is more effective than many people think, and this provides an opportunity for adults in the community to do something about substance use prevention for youth.
“The main part of the program is thanking our retailers for ID'ing for alcohol or tobacco. As we move into prom and graduation season this is something that a lot of adults in our community are thinking about,” Rowe said.
The Youth Community Coalition along with community leaders from Phoenix Programs, Tobacco21.org, and Sober in College discussed the importance of youth substance use prevention and formally launched the 'You Card We Care' program in the Columbia area.
The coalition argues that since "the human brain isn’t fully mature until the mid-20’s, underage use of alcohol and tobacco is the number one cause of addictions or Substance Use Disorders in our country."
Heather Harland, Phoenix program prevention specialist and counselor, said, “Prevention, treatment and recovery all have the same commonality, it’s about managing the environment in which the decision is made to use drugs or not use drugs."
Although cigarette use has decreased in minors over the past few years, eCigarettes have doubled in the last couple of years and 70 percent of high school students have reported trying tobacco.
They have also traced back a common source to where minors get their controlled substances - adults. "When we trace it back to the source, we discover it is always adults who buy, supply, sell to youth or fail to lock up alcohol or tobacco."
Justin Peters, vice president of Sober in College, said it's a fantastic way to promote a cultural shift.
“For minors to access specifically tobacco and alcohol, the main point of access is adults, and I know that from personal experience. I also know that from anecdotes I’ve heard from friends who are also in recovery and from people who aren’t in recovery,” Peters said.
The idea is cashiers checking more I.D.s will limit minors' access to these substances. Each appreciation card a cashier receives will put their name in a raffle for a prize.
“We know we won’t keep 100 percent of young people from using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, but our aim is to decrease the access, to decrease the use, making our community safer,” Harland said.
The coalition is funded locally by Boone County children's services fund.