Letter: Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Saves Lives

The coordinator of the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce addresses the Board of Commissioners' recent decision to revoke a business' alcohol license.

Cobb Commissioner’s recent action to revoke business alcohol license illustrates they take their authority to protect public safety seriously. Government and business practices proven to help prevent underage alcohol sales do exist and when utilized, influence healthy community alcohol norms.

Law enforcement use of compliance checks and government use of effective administrative sanctions are two such practices. Business use of effective alcohol policies; hiring, training and management practices that include monitoring staff compliance with written policies requiring the verification of a customer’s legal age prior to alcohol sales also help. Many local alcohol retailers are successfully complying with alcohol sales laws, and their efforts are appreciated. 

Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, the rates are still unacceptably high. Not only did 27 percent of 12-20 year olds report drinking in the past month, but nine percent of them purchased their own alcohol, according to data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Alcohol causes more harm for youth than all illegal drugs, combined. Underage drinking is also a contributing factor in crimes such as assault, traffic, theft, fraud and sex crimes. 

Enforcing underage drinking laws saves lives and saves money. It is estimated that underage drinking cost Cobb County $3.1 million in 2010. Governments and businesses share in these costs through lost productivity and public health and safety costs.

Everyone can share in a collective responsibility for reducing youth access to alcohol, to find out how you can help – visit Cobb Alcohol Taskforce’s new website at www.cobbat.org.

Cathy Finck, Coordinator

Cobb Alcohol Taskforce


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