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Project Sticker Shock gets attention locally

MIDDLEBURY - Every two years since 1985, the Department of Health's Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs and the Department of Education's Comprehensive School Health Program have sponsored a survey of Vermont students.

The Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) measures the prevalence of behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death, disease, and injury among youth. The YRBS is part of a larger effort to help communities increase the "resiliency" of young people by reducing high risk behaviors and promoting healthy behaviors.

According to 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data 63 percent of all students (8-12 graders) report that it is easy to get alcohol. Among 10th graders, 68 percent report that it is easy. Among students who drank during the past 30 days 50 percent report that someone gave it to them. 57 percent of students report having ever had a drink of alcohol, other than a few sips. 33 percent of 12th graders report having binged on alcohol (had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row within a couple of hours) during the past 30 days.

That means that adults are legally purchasing alcohol and giving it to underage persons, illegally. To raise awareness among adults that may provide alcohol to persons under the age of 21 that it is against the law, students at Mt. Abraham Union High School, Explorers with Middlebury Police Department and The Addison County Teen Center are teaming up with Addison County's Stop Teen Alcohol Risk Team, Vermont State Police, Vergennes Police Department, Middlebury Police Department, The Addison County Prevention Partnership, and local retailers to implement a project called Sticker Shock.

The first wave of sticker shock happened during the third week of December. This second wave started in Bristol Feb. 3, and in Middlebury Feb. 11 with the supervision of the officers and the permission of the retailers placing warning stickers on all packages containing 12 or more bottles of alcohol. The neon orange stickers clearly stated: "Providing Alcohol to Minors is Illegal. Fines are up to $10,000 and or up to five years in jail."

The Addison County START Team and the Addison County Prevention Partnership as well as school advisors in Addison County truly hope that this project will raise awareness about the problem of buying alcohol for people under the legal drinking age. Merchants in Addison County share this hope and want their customers to benefit from the warning labels.

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