First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Human Services Director Elaine Daignault have announced the Westport Prevention Coalition's (WPC) new campaign to combat underage drinking in Westport. The WPC began working with alcohol retailers in December to provide complimentary “Liquor Stickers” to local package stores.
The campaign provides free information cards and “Liquor Stickers” to legal-age alcohol purchasers at the point of sale. The materials seek to raise community awareness about increased levels of underage drinking in Westport, and to encourage adults to do their part to prevent teens from accessing alcohol in the home.
"Liquor Stickers" seal the top of unfinished liquor bottles to monitor consumption. A broken seal indicates that someone has opened the bottle. These simple stickers offer an easy system that may prevent youth from accessing liquor in private homes.
At the time of publication, the following local retailers are participating in the campaign:
The Grapevine at King’s Corner
Black Bear Wine & Spirits
Kindred Spirits & Wine
Green’s Farms Spirit Shop
"There's a reason why alcohol and other substances such as nicotine and cannabis aren't legal for individuals under age 21", explains WPC co-chairs Kevin Godburn (Westport Youth Services) and Margaret Watt (Positive Directions). They continued, "Substance use in the teen years can disrupt healthy brain development and create a potential for lifelong consequences including a future of addiction and mental health problems. We encourage residents to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol and drug misuse and help spread the word to other community members.”
According to the 2021 Youth Survey conducted by Positive Directions on behalf of WPC, Westport teens reported drinking at a rate higher than the 2019 CT state average–even though the survey occurred during the pandemic when social opportunities were rarer.
Together we can take steps to help reduce underage access to these substances.
- Be aware that teens who drink often access alcohol at home or in a friend's home. Use liquor stickers to seal the tops of your liquor bottles, and/or keep your alcohol in a locked cabinet to prevent access by your children or their friends.
- Ensure that kids aren't drinking at your house, and call ahead when your kids are invited to a party to make sure that adults will be home and making sure alcohol is not available.
- CT's "Social Host Law" holds adults (age 18+) responsible if someone under 21 drinks on their property. Penalties include a $2000 fine per youth who was drinking, as well as up to a year in prison. The Social Host Law applies even if the adults were not on site and/or were unaware that teens were drinking in their homes. (This law also applies to cannabis.)
First Selectwoman Tooker encourages residents to "Thank your retailers for doing their part to protect Westport youth by participating in this important initiative with the Prevention Coalition."
About the Westport Prevention Coalition: The Westport Prevention Coalition (WPC) operates as a program of Westport Together, an alliance of the Town government, public schools, community nonprofits, parents, and youth. WPC's mission is to prevent substance misuse across the lifespan. Initiatives include raising awareness, providing education and support, and environmental and policy changes to support a healthy community. WPC meets the first Tuesday of the month from 3 pm-4:30 pm, and any Westport community member is welcome to join the coalition.