Teens collaborate with retailers to reduce underage drinking during Alcohol Awareness Month

Orange County Youth Council Alcohol Awareness Month
Orange County Youth Council members collaborated with retailers like Veeco Liquor Store to reduce underage drinking.

Prevention is key for youth members of the Orange County Youth Council (OCYC). In an effort to reduce underage drinking, the members visited alcohol retailers in Anaheim, where they met with store owners and managers to discuss best practices to reduce alcohol sales to minors. 

The Orange County Youth Council launched in the summer of 2020 to help drive countywide substance abuse prevention efforts and mental health initiatives from a youth perspective. Its members include students from high school Friday Night Live chapters across the county and members of the statewide FNL California Youth Council.

On April 11, 2022, the members visited two stores, including Anaheim Liquor and Veeco Liquor Market, both of which are located within walking distances of two high schools. The store visits started with an in-store observational survey where the youth leaders assessed the placement of liquor, window coverage and prevention signage. Next, they presented the store manager with an overview of best practices for reducing sales to minors, including checking identification, training staff on identifying a fake ID, posting display notices regarding the ID policy in prominent places within the store, prohibiting loitering around the store, ensuring store window signage meets local regulations, and creating a clear separation between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Both of the retailers during these visits agreed to sign a pledge solidifying their commitment to implement these practices. Before leaving the stores, the students placed stickers on alcohol multipacks to remind patrons that providing alcohol to minors is illegal. 

Students placed stickers on multipacks to remind patrons that providing alcohol to minors is illegal.

“The merchant outreach project was a phenomenal event because we met with kindhearted store clerks who were enthusiastic about taking action to support the well-being of youth in our community,” said John Nguyen, a senior at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District. 

The OCYC is a collaborative group made up of students who are part of the Friday Night Live (FNL) Club at their high school. Last year, the California Office of Traffic Safety awarded OCYC a mini-grant through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to support their advocacy efforts. This outreach event supports the youth council’s effort in reducing underage drinking.

Underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive drinking is responsible for more than 3,900 deaths and 225,000 years of potential life lost among people under age 21 each year. 

OCYC Youth Council outside Anaheim Liquor
OCYC members along with leader Elke Petras outside Anaheim Liquor

“This project is important to me because I have seen firsthand the impact of alcohol in the hands of minors,” Nhu Cao, a junior at Santiago High School in Garden Grove, shared. “Thus, through this project, I was able to make contributions that I know would have a direct impact on the well-being of my community and those around me.”

Leaders overseeing the council chose to conduct their project in April in observance of National Alcohol Awareness Month, which is aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the causes and treatment for alcoholism.

The Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership is funded by the OC Health Care Agency’s Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Team. Programs include Friday Night Live chapters at the high school level, Club Live groups at the middle school level and Friday Night Live Kids in the upper elementary grades.

For more information about any of these initiatives, contact OCDE Coordinator Elke Petras at 714-966-4458 or epetras@ocde.us.