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Program targets selling of alcohol to minors

Drug Free Communities of Dallas County and the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce are partnering to put a stop to underage drinking.

The two organizations will hold a joint press conference at Arsenal Place Accelerator at noon Feb. 15 to discuss this portion of the “we say nope, we deal hope” campaign, which encourages vendors to refuse selling minors alcohol.

“We are going to have window clings delivered to every store in Selma and Dallas County that carry those alcoholic products,” said Jerria Martin, director of the DFC.

“On the window clings, it will say a zero tolerance for underage drinking and this is just the beginning of the initiative.”

Martin said a recent survey of local high school students showed that 37 percent of them thought drinking alcohol was OK. According to a 2013 report on StopAlcoholAbuse.gov, 21.5 percent of children between the ages of 12-20 drink alcohol in Alabama.

According to the Center for Disease Control, excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, and it costs the United States $24 billion in economic costs in 2010.

In 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency room visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol, according to the CDC.

“I think they are going in and able to buy it with a fake ID or nobody is ID’ing them at all or getting access through a parent or another parental type figure that’s above 21 and they are providing that kind of stuff to them,” Martin said.

The chamber and DFC have sent out a letter to local businesses, asking them to have a zero tolerance for underage drinking and to request that they will install the window cling. They are also asking businesses to sign a pledge on the back of the letter and to return it to the chamber.

Martin said a pamphlet will soon be released to help parents detect underage drinking. She said she also plans to incorporate compliance checks from the police department into the initiative as well.