Alcohol activists take fight to source
At least that's what members of the Ridgefield Coalition Against Substance Abuse think.
The group, whose goal is to keep young people clean and sober, plans to distribute flyers to package stores that offer advice to parents concerning alcohol safety.
The coalition hopes package store owners will distribute the fliers to patrons at the checkout counter.
Though employees at several liquor stores were not anxious to talk about the flyer idea, two store owners offered endorsements.
The owner of Liberta's Spirit Shop said she would support such an effort by the coalition, but declined further comment. Ridgefield Liquor Shop owner Ken Wippermann also said he would go along with the program.
"Sure, if they think it would be helpful we'd do it," Wippermann said Wednesday . "We would support it any way that they see fit."
Though teen drinking is a problem in many towns, Ridgefield officials have been more candid than many others in acknowledging the problem and trying to fight it. The town was one of the first in the region to approve an ordinance that gives police the ability to break up underage drinking parties at private residences.
A rough draft of the flyer asks liquor store patrons to "Please Use Our Products Responsibly." It then cautions grown-ups to set a good example for children and to lock up alcoholic beverages in their homes.
"The message that we want people to walk away with is to be aware of your children and the influence you have on them," said First Selectman Rudy Marconi, a founding member of the coalition. "Lock your liquor cabinets. I can't say that enough.
"The purpose of this campaign is to bring awareness to people that if you have alcohol in your home and children in your home, they don't mix," Marconi said.
School Superintendent Kenneth Freeston, also a founding member of the coalition, said the flyer is just one step in fighting underage drinking.
"We expect to have a lot of programs in place for the start of the school year," he said. "We're starting with this now to remind adults of the influence they have over young people through their own behavior. Parents are still the most influential people in adolescents' lives."
Coalition member John Katz also said the flyer program is valuable because it reaches parents.
"As great an effect as peer behavior has on a youth," Katz said, "all studies and empirical evidence indicate that it is parental behavior and goal setting that is the most critical piece in a youngster's experience."
Contact Susan Tuz
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