The Westport Prevention Coalition’s (WPC) “Liquor Sticker” underage drinking awareness campaign will continue throughout the summer in Westport.
The grassroots campaign has gained momentum recently, with ten local liquor stores participating in a unique effort to raise awareness of underage drinking. Participating stores prominently display informational materials and “liquor stickers” at the point of purchase. The stickers provide customers with another tool to prevent youth alcohol use by sealing bottles to reduce access.
"When a teen sees the sticker on the bottle top, they'll know that their parents will be aware that the bottle has been opened," Margaret Watt, co-chair of the Westport Prevention Coalition, a community partnership of the Town’s Youth and Human Services Department and Positive Directions, among other community collaborators.
Watt believes the summer months are essential to continue providing liquor stickers. The Prevention Coalition is not targeting legal alcohol use but addressing youth access points by raising adult awareness.
“Many residents have more alcohol on hand for summer get-togethers,” Watt explained. “This is a great time for parents to discuss underage drinking with their kids and take precautions at home to prevent children from accessing it.”
Teen drinking in Westport is a problem, as it is in other Connecticut communities. According to the 2021 Youth Survey conducted by Positive Directions on behalf of the WPC, Westport teens reported drinking at a rate higher than the 2019 state average, which was an eye-opener because the survey occurred during the pandemic when social opportunities were not as prevalent.
"There's a reason why alcohol and other substances such as nicotine and cannabis aren't legal for individuals under age 21," said Kevin Godburn, Westport Youth Services Director and co-chair of the coalition. "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."
Several previously participating stores claim that customers have responded positively to the campaign. “They’ve been very popular,” said the owner of Dan’s Liquors. “Everybody says that they're a great product, that it's a really interesting idea."
Others, such as Westport Wine and Spirits, had heard about the WPC’s campaign and were eager to join. The WPC is pleased to recognize participating retailers on its website and social media. The following ten stores are currently participating:
- Castle Wine and Spirits
- Black Bear Wine and Spirits
- Dan's Liquors
- The Fine Wine Company of Westport
- Ninety 9 Bottles
- The Grapevine
- Kindred Spirits
- Greens Farms Spirit Shop
- International Wine Shop
- Westport Wine and Spirits
“We’re thrilled that so many Westport retailers have been eager to partner with us,” Watt said. “We hope Westport parents will look for our liquor stickers at participating stores and commend our partners for doing their part to protect our children. This program is just one of many campaigns that aim to increase dialogue among adults and children about the dangers of underage use.”