CHICAGO—Yes, those were teenagers congregating in liquor stores today; and no, this wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. April 1, 2010 served as Sticker Shock Day in Illinois, where teenagers posted Project Sticker Shock materials throughout the state reminding adults that it is illegal to give alcohol to minors and for minors to use a fake ID.
“Underage drinking is no joke; in fact, the consequences are deadly serious,” said Lainie Krozel, executive director of the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC), the agency coordinating this second annual effort. “Through this campaign, it is our hope all adults get the message that providing alcohol to minors is Illegal, Unhealthy, & Unacceptable.”
Liquor licensees are encouraged to display these materials throughout April – Alcohol Awareness Month. This month is the start of a particularly dangerous time for teens, as many will attend proms and graduation parties – events historically associated with underage drinking. To counter this destructive activity, thousands of teenagers, parents, law enforcement personnel, local elected officials, and other community leaders will be out in force during April posting Project Sticker Shock stickers, window decals, posters, and signs.
But, as many liquor licensees know, not all teenagers are posting educational materials during their visits; some will be attempting to buy alcohol, including those with the blessing of the Liquor Commission. These particular teens are part of the ILCC’s underage compliance check operations, which are conducted throughout the state.
Over the past year, the compliance rate for Illinois liquor retailers has jumped dramatically. For example, 86.6 percent of retailers passed the underage checks during the past six months (Oct. 2009-Mar. 2010), while only 76.3 percent passed these checks during this same period just one year earlier.
“We are very pleased with these latest figures,” said John Chambers, who, as tax enforcement administrator for the Illinois Department of Revenue, oversees the ILCC agent staff. “Our agents are very committed to this program and would rather see compliance than issue a citation.”
Those establishments found in violation during these checks are subject to a fine, suspension, or revocation of their license. And the consequences are harsh on the arrested employees as well, as they can ultimately face up to a year in jail and a maximum $2,500.00 fine.
“Illinois retailers have heard the message, now we need to ensure the rest of Illinois’ adult population is obeying the law as well,” said ILCC Acting Chairman Stephen Schnorf. “Adults remain the primary source of alcohol for minor drinking. If we can prevent these types of situations from occurring in the first place, we can reduce the health and social costs of underage drinking on our society.”
The costs of underage drinking are high. According to the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, underage drinking costs the State of Illinois nearly $1 billion a year in medical care and work loss. The cost to Illinois citizens balloons to over $3 billion a year when including pain and suffering from these injuries.
In addition to the numerous local groups fanning out across Illinois, a variety of corporate chains will be posting Project Sticker Shock materials in all their Illinois stores this April. Also, a wide-ranging partnership of statewide organizations—from both the liquor industry and prevention field—signed on to this effort. Visit www.tax.illinois.gov for a complete list of state and local sponsors.
For more information about the Project Sticker Shock campaign and other ILCC underage drinking awareness efforts, please visit www.DontBeSorry.org.