I have been to several meetings lately (and going to another tonight) working on preventing underage drinking at several levels. Last Friday I attended a meeting of the Illinois Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking and will be a part of their Steering Committee going forward. In addition to the efforts on the local level that I am participating in, it is important to push and share efforts state-wide and have a presence for the legislature, hence the state coalition.
We plan to concentrate efforts on things like 1) keg registration (more likely growing it to state level from local efforts) so that kegs can always be tracked back to the individual who purchased it, 2) alcopops (think mike’s hard lemonade) or bottled “girlie drinks”, or at least working to impact their marketing that seems to target underage female drinkers, 3) minimum age for bar entry (particularly a problem in college towns), and 4) perhaps a tax increase on alcohol products to fund interventions and (although I doubt its effectiveness) to decrease consumption, particularly among underage kids. I look forward to these efforts and others as they become apparent.
One interesting bit of information that came up at the meeting was Senate Bill 948 that passed in the last legislative session. It seems to me that it kind of brings back the “wild west”. Picture the scene in the old westerns where the cowboy goes into the saloon and orders a bottle of red-eye (with a dirty glass if he was really tough). If (or when) the governor signs this bill into law, folks in Illinois can go into a "club” and order a full bottle of distilled sprits (sounds pretty put that way) to be shared by a table of 2 or more people. This bottle service, while it likely won’t be red-eye, will likely contribute to over drinking. Once the bottle is open you can’t take it home, so you might as well finish it there (17 drinks in a fifth, 21 in a quart, or 22 in a liter). “Over the teeth and past the gums, look out liver here it comes.”
That should be “good for business”.