Wednesday, March 28, 2012

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month, held every April, is sponsored by National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to increase public awareness aimed at reducing the stigma that often prevents individuals and families from seeking help.  In 2012, NCADD celebrates the 26th Anniversary of Alcohol Awareness Month with the theme, “Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities: Prevent Underage Drinking."

NCADD's website includes materials for local groups to conduct alcohol awareness activities including an "Organizer's Guide" that contains sample media releases, proclamations and other pubic information materials. 

A Prevention Services Task Force, appointed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides information about alcohol policy -- what works and what does not when it comes to preventing underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marijuana legalization is not a sure thing

I keep hearing people say that marijuana legalization is a done deal in Washington.  As an Elway poll shows, this is simply not the case.  In fact, support for legalization slipped between July 2011 and December 2012.

Growth and development information on the Seattle Children's website

The Seattle Children's website includes a Growth and Development page that provides links to muliple health and safety resources.  Among them are:

Staying Connected During the Teen Years contains articles for both parents and teenagers. 
-- For teens: Why do I fight with my parents so much?  and Talking to your parents - or other adults
-- For parents: A parent's guide to surviving the teen years and Kids and alcohol

The Winter 2012 edition of the Good Growing newsletter includes articles about mental health warning signs and the importance of parents and their teenage children having a "bail out" phrase. 

Several videos about health-related topics including one about teenagers and depression

Friday, March 23, 2012

Teacher support can delay alcohol use among middle school students

Emotional health factors, including anxiety and depression, stress and social support can predict early substance abuse in youth, according to a study conducted through Seattle Children's Research Institute and researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle University.  Students who felt more emotional support from teachers reported a delay in alcohol initiation.  Those who reported higher levels of separation anxiety from their parents were also at decreased risk for early alcohol use. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Marijuana: prevention resources and media stories

So much information to share . . .

Web-based resources

-- Marijuana Resource Center: Marijuana is a topic of significant public discourse in the United States, and while many are familiar with the discussions, it is not always easy to find the latest, research-based information on marijuana to answer to the common questions about its health effects, or the differences between Federal and state laws concerning the drug. This Web-based resource center provides the general public, community leaders, and other interested people with the facts, knowledge, and tools to better understand and address marijuana in their communities.

-- Locally, the University of Washington Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute hosts an online resource -- Marijuana: Science-based information for the public.

-- A National Alliance for Marijuana Prevention was recently launched with the goals of to developing and strengthening collaboration among communities, agencies and federal, state and local governments to support the efforts of organizations to prevent and reduce marijuana use by addressing the factors that increase risk within a community.

-- The But What About the Children? Campaign website demands that policymakers who want to legalize marijuana guarantee that marijuana will not be marketed to young people like alcohol and tobacco are.

Medical marijuana policy analysis

-- A two part series entitled "Clearing the Smoke on Medical Marijuana" discusses medical marijuana policy.  Part 1 looks at how marijuana is classified in the federal Controlled Substance Act and Part 2 discusses the ability for research to be done on the effects of marijuana.

In the media

-- In January 2010, Massachusetts decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  A story in a Massachusetts newspaper, "New Law Haunts Schools Local Officials Charge: Marijuana Law is Taking Toll on Teens at Revere High" reports:  Two years later, public safety officials, school officials and youth advocates are saying it has levied a major toll on the school-age generation – who grapple to understand why marijuana is frowned upon at school and smiled upon in the law books.

-- As fewer teens perceive harm in marijuana use, fewer teens also report that marijuana use is distracting while driving, according to a recent national study.  Stephen Wallace of Students Against Destructive Decisions says the findings reflect a “dangerous trend toward the acceptance of marijuana and other substances compared to our study of teens conducted just two years ago…both in terms of the increased use of marijuana and from the perspective that many think this is not a danger.”

-- From "High Season: Teens and Marijuana Use" (Family Circle magazine):  After more than a decade of decline, pot smoking among adolescents is growing once again. According to the University of Michigan's annual survey of 50,000 middle and high school students, 16 percent of 8th-graders have smoked marijuana, 32 percent of 10th-graders, and 42 percent of 12th-graders.

What's behind the increase? "There's been a rapid erosion of anti-marijuana attitudes in our society," says Tom Hedrick, a founding member of Partnership for a Drug-Free America (PDFA). "A lot of what kids hear today is not to worry." Fourteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and this fall Californians will vote on whether to do the same for recreational use. From movies like Hot Tub Time Machine to TV's Weeds to Michael Phelps' marijuana moment, there's a constant message being sent to teens: Everybody must get stoned, and it's all right. No wonder survey results show that only 44 percent of 8th-graders perceive pot as posing a "great risk" to their health, down from more than 50 percent in 2004. "This is the perfect storm that could lead to a tremendous explosion in marijuana use," says Hedrick. "Parents have reason to be concerned."

Locally . . .

-- The Mayor of Seattle in his 2012 State of the City Address pushes for legalizing marijuana. 

-- In December, KCTS 9 Connects aired a show about marijuana legalization.

Watch December 9, 2011 on PBS. See more from KCTS 9 Connects.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Seattle Channel: alcohol and marijuana

The Seattle Channel's City Inside Out recently took on both liquor deregulation and marijuana legalization. 

It's too bad that the show about I-1183 didn't include someone talking about the health and safety problems that go hand in hand with increased access to alcohol with no additional funding for liquor enforcement. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Underage drinking in the news

Mercer Island recently passed that state's first social host law.  Earlier this month, a parent received the first citation under the new law. 

First parent cited under Mercer Island's 'underage drinking' ordinance (KOMO)

Mercer Island dad may fight $250 fine for son's party (Seattle Times)

More research has been done that emphasizes the key role parents play in preventing underage drinking.

Kids listen when parents say no to teen drinking (National Public Radio)

Two more studies indicate a link between exposure to alcohol through media and underage drinking.

Alcohol consumption in movies and adolescent binge drinking in 6 European countries (Pediatrics)

Comparing media and family predictors of alcohol use: a cohort study of US adolescents (BMJ Open)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Liquor Control Board Public Health & Safety Forum

On Tuesday, March 13, the Liquor Control Board hosted a Public Health & Safety Forum about the implementation of I-1183, the initiative that privatizes the sale of liquor and further deregulates marketing wine and liquor in Washington.  The forum was well attended not only by public health and safety advocates but by representatives of the businesses that will benefit from I-1183 including Costco, Target and the Grocers Association. 

Following are some notes that I took during the hearing. 

Trade Area
The initiative states that stores selling liquor must be 10,000 square feet or larger.  Exceptions will be made if such a store does not exist in a "trade area".  Trade area is not defined.  The Liquor Control Board (LCB) will look at defining trade area after June 1, 2012.  Previously, the LCB determined if a new liquor store should be opened if (1) there was significant population growth in an area, (2) if travel time for customers was more than 15 minutes, and (3) customer satisfaction surveys indicated that people were unhappy about how far they had to travel to get to a store. 

It is estimated that the number of stores selling liquor in Washington will increase from 340 to about 1300-1400 once I-1183 is implemented. 

Alcohol Impact Areas
In NE Seattle, the University District is considered an Alcohol Impact Area (AIA).  This designation means:

- Seattle is given more time to review liquor license applications and renewals for businesses inside the AIA.

- Seattle may also request that the Liquor Control Board restrict grocery and convenience stores in the University District from selling certain types of beers and wines that are linked to local chronic public inebriation problems (such as high alcohol content, low-cost products), or restrict the hours that retailers can sell to-go.

The AIA designation does not preclude grocery stores in the area from selling liquor once I-1183 is fully implemented. 

Hours of Sale
Currently, most liquor stores close at 10:00 p.m.  I-1183 does not contain a provision limiting the hours of sale of liquor -- grocery and other large stores may sell liquor as long as they are open for business.

Responsible Vendor Program
The LCB is instituting a Responsible Vendor Program that encourages liquor licensees to put in place store policies meant to prevent the sale of liquor to minors.  The program is free, voluntary and self-monitoring.  The LCB will only check compliance with the program if they receive complaints about the business.  Of the more than 1,000 businesses that have applied for liquor licenses around the state as of the beginning of the month, only about 30 have applied to be a part of the Responsible Vendor Program.

No additional funds have been allocated to the Liquor Control Board to provide increased enforcement.  Currently, there are 300 liquor licensees per LCB officer.  They will focus their efforts on licensees near schools and colleges and those about which they receive complaints.   

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Coalition Co-Chair testifies at Liquor Control Board hearing

On Monday, the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) and the City of Seattle hosted a public hearing about whether or not the LCB should open their rule-making process and consider the City's petition to allow local jurisdictions to set their own alcohol service hours.  Right now, state regulations require alcohol to stop being served at 2:00 a.m.  Seattle nightclubs want to be able to serve alcohol longer, possibly 24 hours per day. 

During the hearing, many people provided testimony for and against this petition.  One of our Prevention WINS Co-Chairs, Gary Hothi, was among them and he is quoted in news articles about the hearing in The Seattle Times and The Stranger's Slog.  Derek Franklin, from Mercer Island's DFC coalition and WASAVP board member, is quoted in another Seattle Times article

Later this year, public hearing will also take place in Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Spokane.  More information about the petition is available on the LCB's website.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parents of Eckstein Middle School students: please take a short survey!

Eckstein Middle School Parents & Guardians,
Your input is needed!  Please take a quick (less than 5 minutes) anonymous online survey:  The survey will help guide future activities for Eckstein families that provide information about supporting healthy teen development.  If you have questions about the survey, please contact Prevention WINS
For information about Prevention WINS, visit 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Postcard encourages parents to support safe and healthy activities for their teenagers

During Mid-Winter Break, Eckstein Middle School families received the third of three postcards with tips about how they can encourage healthy decision making among their teenage children. 

This final postcard provides information about how parents can connect with other parents and ensure that their children are participating in healthy and safe social activities.

Coalition capacity building

As a community coalition, a great deal of what Prevention WINS does is build capacity in NE Seattle to prevent youth drug abuse.  For coalition purposes, "capacity building" is the planned development of knowledge, skills and capabilities of a community so that they may conduct and sustain a variety of prevention activities and create an environment that supports healthy youth development.   

Recent entries on the Philanthropy NW Blog discuss the importance of capacity building.  Following is an excerpt from one of the posts.  While it is meant for leaders of foundations, it applies to all people who want to build a community's capacity to create positive change.

Ten “Rules of Thumb” for effective engagement in community capacity building

1. Engage for the long haul – there are no quick fixes – the big success stories out there are universally long-term endeavors

2. Make sure your community partners are those the community would choose

3. Get out of your silo – community issues are multi-dimensional and require solutions that cross traditional systems and topics

4. Understand and articulate your theory of change or framework

5. Focus your support on the community’s priorities – not theirs to yours

6. Contextualize training and support – the risk of pulling people out of the community context for training

7. Avoid scud TA – Never do for a community what they can do for themselves – invest in building their capacities rather than in importing expertise

8. Adapt don’t replicate

9. Don’t assume that grassroots communities can meet funder standards for management and accountability – be prepared to support and intentionally coach in these areas. (balance between paternalism and realism)

10. Remember that you are always the 800 lb. gorilla in the room!

For more detailed information about building capacity, download the Capacity Primer from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Who will sell hard alcohol in NE Seattle?

Yesterday, the Capitol Hill blog reported that 72 stores in Seattle have applied for, or stated that they intend to apply for, licenses to sell hard alcohol as of March 1, 2012.  The blog includes a list and map of all stores that have applied. 

According to the map, 16 stores located in NE Seattle have applied to sell hard alcohol.  These include Walgreens, Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Target.  This change will significantly increase the hard alcohol outlet density in our community.  Prior to June 1, when I-1183 goes into affect, hard alcohol is sold in 3 NE Seattle stores. 

High alcohol outlet density is described as a public health problem by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Community Guide:

An alcohol outlet is a place where alcohol may be legally sold for the buyer to drink there (on-premises outlets, such as bars or restaurants) or elsewhere (off-premises outlets, such as liquor stores). Density refers to the number of alcohol outlets in a given area.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends the use of regulatory authority (e.g., through licensing and zoning) to limit alcohol outlet density on the basis of sufficient evidence of a positive association between outlet density and excessive alcohol consumption and related harms (including underage drinking).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Liquor Control Board to host two public meetings on alcohol regulations

Do you have something to say about the further deregulation of alcohol?  Do you want to learn about how public health and safety may be affected by I-1183, the initiative that privatized liquor sales and further deregulated alcohol in general?  Here are two forums that you may want to attend.  

Liquor Control Board Public Hearing: The City of Seattle’s petition to extended hours of alcohol service
March 12, 2012 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Seattle City Hall
Bertha Knight Landes Room
600 Fourth Avenue
Seattle, WA

Public Health & Safety Stakeholder Forum
March 13, 2012, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Liquor Control Board Headquarters
3000 Pacific Avenue SE
Olympia, WA

During this forum, senior Liquor Control Board staff will be available to answer questions about the implementation of I-1183 including how hard alcohol will be distributed and sold and changes in licensing and regulation. 

Alcohol regulation in the news

As the state works to implement I-1183, the initiative that privatizes liquor sales and further deregulates alcohol in general, the impacts of deregulation are being exposed.

For an overview of how I-1183 is playing out in Seattle, check out Getting liquored up which appears in Seattle City Living.  The article questions promises made by the proponents of deregulation such as lower liquor prices and more selection. 

Who wants to sell booze? appeared in yesterday's PI and lists the many stores that are applying for licenses to sell hard alcohol.  Here's an excerpt:

Of the 1,400 stores expected to sell liquor under Initiative 1183, more than 850 have applied for one of the state’s new retail spirits licenses.

Most of the requests are from big-box chains you’d expect to sell under the measure, which killed the state’s Prohibition-era liquor system. But there’s a few surprises in who wants in on the booze business.

Approved by voters last November, the measure allows stores at least 10,000 square feet to sell vodka, gin and other spirits. There’s an exception for smaller stores, if no other store sells liquor in its “trade area.” The state still needs to define that term.

Meanwhile, HealthDay reports: Support for tougher liquor laws rises when booze, crime linked.  The article states: It is estimated that drinking is involved in nearly one-third of deaths from accidents and violent crime. Most news reports of such cases, however, make no mention of alcohol, according to the authors of the study, published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Then there is the CNN story, Studies cite link between booze sales, inner-city violence that reports: "Taking into account other factors known to contribute to youth homicide rates – such as poverty, drugs, availability of guns and gangs – the researchers found that higher densities of liquor stores, providing easy access to alcoholic beverages, contributed significantly to higher youth homicide rates . . ."  This echos what prevention advocates have been saying all along, that higher rates of alcohol availability is bad for public health.

Not to mention that the World Health Organization is now pushing for stronger alcohol regulations worldwide

Finally, a Seattle Times article about how craft distilleries may be harmed by I-1183 reports: Joe Gilliam, president of the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents Costco and others, met recently with Idaho's governor and other officials to discuss privatizing its liquor system. 

My question is: who is the prevention community's Joe Gilliam?  Those of us advocating for policies that prevent underage drinking, such as tough regulations, have a steep path ahead of us considering the money and power wielded by the alcohol industry.