‘Project Sticker Shock’ warns against buying for underage drinkers

Customers at a trio of New Jersey liquor stores will get a bright and blunt reminder this weekend when they pick up beer for their Labor Day festivities.

A group of students at The College of New Jersey in Mercer County have slapped neon green stickers on multi-packs of beer that warn adults that purchasing alcohol for those under 21 is illegal and that getting caught can result in up to six months in jail.

“At the very least, we’re hoping that it makes people think twice,” said Luis Sanchez, a senior at TCNJ and a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community-service fraternity on campus. “If you see this information constantly, if you’re constantly aware of it. Then you can’t blame ignorance.”

On Wednesday, Sanchez and two fellow members of Alpha Phi spent about an hour affixing stickers to about 700 packs of beer, including boxes of Coors Light and Budweiser, brands he said are popular at campus parties.

Barbara Sprechman, coordinator for the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County, also affixed stickers at Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet, Libby’s Liquors and Glendale Liquor Store as part of Project Sticker Shock.

The national campaign, which forms partnerships with retailers, aims to cut down on underage drinking by reaching out to adults old enough to buy.

“We’re trying to really change community norms where it’s acceptable to drink underage and let people know that it’s not and it’s really not a good idea to start down this path,” said Sprechman.

It’s an effort that Don Wyckoff, store manager for Libby’s, said is overdue.

“Each generation tries to do a little bit more experimenting when they should just wait until you’re 21 to buy,” he said.

Project Sticker Shock focuses on applying stickers during holidays most associated with drinking, including Labor Day, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day.

“Over and over again, these communities are going to get these messages and the hope is that it’s going to sink in at some point,” said Sprechman.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.