Dover Youth to Youth Won’t Be Fooled by Big Alcohol’s Disguises
We are all members of Dover Youth to Youth and we are here downtown today to announce the launch of our high risk alcohol products campaign.
We hope to make the community aware of new alcohol products that are designed, promoted and marketed to be unreasonably attractive to kids and teens. Our theme is:
Hey big alcohol! Dress up is for kids!
We are concerned about the way the alcohol industry is marketing and promoting their products. For example we are concerned about candy and fruity flavors in alcohol products. We feel that flavors downplay the risks of alcohol for underage drinkers. For example, the SLUSHIE product from Downeast is covered in colors that make it look like an icee, and has a very high sugar content, which causes it to taste like candy. These two things can be extremely attractive to kids and teens.
We are also very concerned about alcohol packaged in ways very attractive to kids and teens. For example, this brand of beer from Concord Brewing Company has cans designed like the kids animated movie Finding Nemo. On the side of the can, it asks “how many fish can you find?” and you have to go around the can looking for the different fish, almost like a children’s menu at a restaurant. This brings up the important question: what kind of adult wants to find cartoon clownfish on a beer can? Over the past year we have written two letters to the Concord Brewing Company, the company who makes this design for their beer, but as of now, still have not gotten any reply.
This beer from Smuttynose brewery has the UNH Wildcats team mascot and the UNH official shield logo. This is especially bad because most students on a college campus are under the legal drinking age, and won’t be until their junior year of college. This glorifies the frat party and college drinking culture to people who aren’t over 21, and whose actions could extremely impact their educational future.
We are also concerned about the recent trend of adding alcohol to drinks normally consumed by kids like us. This includes alcoholic versions of: Simply Lemonade, AriZona iced tea, Vita Coco, Bang energy drink and Sunny D.
The Boston Beer Co. has recently collaborated with Pepsi to add alcohol to the teen drink Mountain Dew. It is not sold yet in New Hampshire yet and we hope to work with the NH Liquor Commission to continue to block the sale in NH.
We are also concerned about fruity and candy flavorings, youthful packaging, edible sweets with alcohol, caffeinated alcohol products and branding some alcohol drinks as healthy or a health food
We hope that this demonstration makes the community more aware of the dangerous marketing strategies the alcohol industry uses to target kids and teens in an effort to market their product as safe and harmless.
We feel alcohol companies should be more responsible. We want them to stop targeting and advertising to youth, stop using candy flavorings in their product, stop decorating products with kid-friendly designs, and stop making products that are attractive to youth.
We are particularly concerned that these promotions will attract kids, addict kids to their product, and cause an excess of underage drinking.
To get this message out, we are putting on this rally in downtown Dover and having this press conference to inform the public of our concerns with the way big alcohol markets their product.
Over the next year, Youth to Youth will also be continuing the momentum of this campaign with projects like radio and video PSA’s, presentations, and other advocacy activities.
By taking all these actions we hope to bring awareness to the alcohol industry’s advertising strategies that target kids and make alcohol seem harmless and safe. Targeting kids means more underage drinking, which is harmful to their health and development. Your brain isn’t fully developed until you’re 25 years old, and drinking underage can permanently damage your brain chemistry, which leads to poor school performance, depression, and most importantly, addiction. The alcohol industry is able to addict children and teens because they market in ways attractive to youth.
According to Dover Youth to Youth sixth-grader Maggie Elliott, “I feel like Sunny D vodka is targeting me and my friends because it used to be a kid drink and now they put alcohol in it.”
This campaign is being kicked off during Dover Youth to Youth’s week long summer training program that teaches students the knowledge and skills they need to take action on substance misuse issue in their communities. Nearly 40 experienced and new student members are participating in the program this week.
Dover Youth to Youth is an after school drug prevention effort coordinated by the Dover Police Department with support from Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. For more information on this issue, or Dover Youth to Youth in general, please call 603-516-3274. More information is also available at the Dover Youth to Youth website at www.DoverY2Y.org.