Armed with stickers, Burlington County teens aim to curb underage drinking

Equipped with a large supply of neon-green stickers, posters and window decals, members of several Burlington County youth service groups converged on a local liquor store recently to kick off the fourth Sticker Shock campaign, which is designed to raise awareness about the harmful effects of underage drinking.

The stickers proclaim the warning: “Keep it Legal. The penalty for purchasing alcohol for people under 21 is up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.”

Early St. Patrick’s Day morning members of TEAM (Teens Exposing Alcohol Myths) stuck the bright, highly visible alerts onto six-packs, 12-packs and cases of beer, wine bottles and other spirits at Martin’s Liquors in Mount Laurel.

Because of its prominent location on a main road near a busy shopping destination, the store was chosen as a potential spot where local teens may attempt to purchase alcohol or have someone of legal age purchase it for them.

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“Alcohol is the number one drug of choice among adolescents in Burlington County,” said Freeholder, Mary Ann O’Brien.

“This is because teens often have easy access in their home or from older siblings,” she said.

“It’s important to raise the awareness factor for everyone. We’re pleased that vendors like Martin’s Liquors are helping spread the word and also impressed by the number of community partners who are participating in the campaign.”

Prevention Plus of Burlington County, in collaboration with the Burlington County Municipal Alliance/Youth Advisory Board started the Sticker Shock campaign in February 2010. The first promotion took place at The Wine Cellar in Cinnaminson during Super Bowl weekend. Ott’s in Medford and Cramp’s Liquors in Edgewater Park have also participated in Sticker Shock campaigns.

The campaign is promoted several times each year, typically in sync with holidays when drinking is expected to increase. Participants in this month’s event also included the Burlington County Coalition for Healthy Communities and students from Burlington County College’s Human Services Club.

Underage alcohol use is a statewide issue and grant-funded prevention agencies in neighboring counties have programs similar to the Sticker Shock campaign that focus on an environment of change.

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