Underage drinking has been part of the Westport scene since F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald partied here (despite Prohibition for everyone).
Last month, the Westport Prevention Coalition took a step toward combatting teen alcohol use.
The group — a program of Westport Together, the town-wide alliance of government, public schools, nonprofits, parents and youth aimed at raising awareness, and providing education, support, and environmental and policy changes to enhance a “healthy community” — provides “Liquor Stickers” and information cards to local package stores.
The goal is to raise awareness about underage drinking, and encourage adults to prevent teens from accessing alcohol in homes.
“Liquor Stickers” seal the top of opened but unfinished bottles. A broken seal means that someone has re-opened it.
Stickers are available at:
- The Grapevine
- Black Bear Wine & Spirits
- Kindred Spirits & Wine
- Green’s Farms Spirit Shop
- Dan’s Liquors
According to WPC co-chairs Kevin Godburn of Westport Youth Services and Margaret Watt (Positive Directions), “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 a 2021 Youth Survey conducted by Positive Directions on behalf of WPC, Westport teens reported drinking at a rate higher than the 2019 state average – even though the survey occurred during the pandemic, when social opportunities were rarer.
The Westport Prevention Coalition adds:
- 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 alcohol in a locked cabinet.
- Ensure that kids aren’t drinking at your house. Call ahead when your children are invited to a party to make sure that adults will be home, and making sure alcohol is not available.
- Connecticut’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.)