Hoover Coalition launches anti-teenage drinking campaign

Published 3:15 pm Monday, April 20, 2009

Alabama’s First Lady, Patsy Riley, threw her arms out to the side as she looked beseechingly at the crowd gathered in the Hoover Public Library Plaza.

“How in the world can a parent assist a teenager in drinking?” she asked. “I was my children’s best friend. You can ask them today. What best friend wants to do bad stuff in their best friend’s life?”

Riley was in town as the keynote speaker at the Alcohol Awareness Campaign Kickoff, hosted by the Hoover Coalition. The event served as an introduction for the Coalition’s newest project, “Host a Party. Pay the Price,” intended to encourage parents not to host underage drinking parties or condone underage drinking.

Riley, dressed in a houndstooth black-and-white suit, said parents must take a stand against teenage drinking, even when it seems it’s widely accepted.

“When you take a stand, you’re going to offend someone with a different view. Take a stand anyway,” she said.

Hoover Police Lt. Mo Canady shared statistics and details of the campaign, saying that teenage drinking is a preventable epidemic.

“We want to educate parents about the risks of alcohol at house parties,” he said. “One out of four teens say their parents have provided them with alcohol.”

Canady also said that underage drinking costs Alabama $1 billion annually, and that underage drinkers consume 14 percent of alcohol sold in the state.

He reminded people of the costs of aiding teenage drinking, which is a class B misdemeanor and is punishable by fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. That doesn’t even take into account legal fees, which can be in the thousands of dollars.

Hoover Police Chief Nick Derzis closed out the event, speaking about statistics that focused on Hoover.

He said that in a 2008 Hoover alcohol study, 35 percent of Hoover’s high school students reported using alcohol at their homes or at friends’ homes.

“I have witnessed tragic consequences that occur from poor decision-making with one key ingredient – alcohol,” he said. “Remember, good kids sometimes make poor decisions.”

For more information on the Hoover Coalition’s campaign, visit www.hostpays.com.