Wine and Spirits Wholesalers Joined FTC,
Century Council in Statewide Campaign to Curb Underage Drinking

Industry, Community Leaders Partnered to Launch “We Don't Serve Teens”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee (WSWT) partnered with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Century Council Friday, Sept. 21, to launch “We Don't Serve Teens,” a public information campaign aimed at curbing underage drinking.

Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper kicked off the initiative at West End Discount Liquors to raise awareness statewide about the dangers of teenage alcohol abuse. Thomas E. Bernard, president of WSWT and of Nashville's Horizon Wine and Spirits, spoke on behalf of the state's 19 independent wholesalers.

The Nashville launch--also attended by wholesalers Bubba Donnelly and Richard Thibus, Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall and other officials--coincided with other events statewide that sent the message, “We don't serve teens.” In Memphis, Mayor A.C. Wharton and Sheriff Mark Luttrell met with wholesalers John Barzizza and Jack Aaron at Busters to launch Memphis' campaign. In Knoxville, local law enforcement officer Matt Kinder joined wholesaler Jim Petrone at University Liquors, and the Chattanooga market welcomed Sheriff Billy Long and wholesalers Trey White and Andy Cox to initiate “We Don't Serve Teens” at the local Mellow Mushroom restaurant.

Following the launch, members of WSWT began distributing materials free of charge – including posters, point of purchase signs, decals and lapel pins – to all the retail outlets and restaurants they serve to emphasize the importance of preventing teen access to alcohol.

“The problem of underage drinking across this state and nation is only becoming more serious, negatively impacting the physical, emotional and social health of our young people,” said Bernard. “As an industry, we are central to this fight. We look into the eyes of every person who buys our product and we want to make it perfectly clear to all – ‘We Don't Serve Teens.'”

The pervasiveness of alcohol abuse among America's underage population is growing and its impact is alarming. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health, 25 percent of 12th- graders, 22 percent of 10th-graders and 11 percent of eighth-graders have consumed alcohol. In addition, the age of first use is declining with recent studies finding that more than one-fourth of 14-year-olds have consumed alcohol in the last year.

Alcohol is the main cause of death for people under age 21. The most recent figures from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show that alcohol plays a role in more than 30 percent of all Tennessee teen traffic fatalities. Alcohol abuse among youth also can lead to academic failure, risky sexual behavior, and an increased risk of developing an alcohol problem in the future.

Research indicates teens most often gain access to alcohol at home. A recent Century Council study reported 65% of youth surveyed said they got the alcohol they drink from family and friends while only 7% of youth report that they obtained alcohol from retailers who failed to check for identification.

To confront the problem, the FTC founded “We Don't Serve Teens” in partnership with government, advocacy and industry organizations. Other major contributors include the Century Council, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the National Consumers League.

Last week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution introduced by the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America officially recognizing National “We Don't Serve Teens” Week. “The ‘We Don't Serve Teens' campaign recognizes that all three tiers of the beverage alcohol industry play a key role in the prevention of underage drinking and unites all of those participants in a concerted effort to protect America's youth,” the resolution states.

About “We Don't Serve Teens”
The “We Don't Serve Teens” campaign involves a coalition of public and private sector organizations including The Century Council, the Federal Trade Commission, Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, Inc., the U.S. Department of Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, the Responsible Retailing Forum, the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Inc., the National Consumers League, and the American Beverage Licensees. For more information on the campaign or to order materials visit www.dontserveteens.gov.

About Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee (WSWT)
The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Tennessee, a registered 501(c)(6) organization, is a statewide trade association comprised of 19 family-owned local businesses in Tennessee that play a central role in wine and spirits distribution. The mission of WSWT is to maintain the appropriate legal and regulatory environment for the distribution of beverage alcohol in the state of Tennessee so as to ensure the safe and responsible use of its products. Please visit www.wswt.org for more information.

About the Century Council
Launched in 1991, The Century Council's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information, please visit www.centurycouncil.org.

 




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