GOVERNOR BUSH INCREASES EFFORTS TO REDUCE UNDERAGE DRINKING
~~ ~~ State agencies join together to raise public awareness ~~ ~~
Governor Jeb Bush and First Lady Columba Bush today joined the Governor's State Leadership Commission for Reducing Underage Drinking to announce new initiatives to reduce youth alcohol use in Florida. The initiatives are based on the recommendations in the 2004 Changing Alcohol Norms report published by the Florida Office of Drug Control.
"Unfortunately, alcohol and binge drinking remain the two highest forms of substance abuse by youth in Florida and across the nation," said Governor Bush. "Through increased public awareness and education, we can reduce alcohol and substance abuse in Florida."
In January, Governor Bush created the Governor's State Leadership Commission for Reducing Underage Drinking, comprised of state agency heads, to increase education and awareness on the dangers associated with underage drinking, increase training and enforcement efforts among law enforcement officials and conduct in-depth research and analysis on emerging issues and trends associated with underage drinking.
"We need to set a positive example for our children," said Mrs. Bush. "Our actions and conversations with our children guide and shape their lives. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to help them make the right choices."
Among the agencies Governor Bush charged with addressing this issue are the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Business and Professional Regulation - Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Children and Families, Department of Juvenile Justice and the Agency for Workforce Innovation.
These agencies will partner to raise public awareness on the harms of alcohol abuse and take actions to reduce it:
Ø The Department of Health will distribute literature with an underage drinking message to all county health departments and children's medical services clinics for adolescent clients.
Ø The Agency for Workforce Innovation will partner with regional workforce boards and their one-stop career centers in distributing education materials discussing the risks of underage drinking and the effect it can have on one's future.
Ø The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will educate agency law enforcement on the roles they can play in preventing underage drinking.
Ø The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will work with the Florida Sheriffs Association and Florida's police chiefs to develop new anti-drinking messages.
Ø The Department of Education will provide training on underage drinking to school personnel.
Ø The Department of Children and Families will collaborate with an academic institution to conduct a study on identifying strategies on how to involve families in underage drinking prevention.
The 2005 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey has recently reported that alcohol use among middle and high school students has declined by 10 percent since 2000. Efforts to reduce binge drinking have achieved greater success with statewide reductions of 19 percent among middle and high school students. While the numbers show a downward trend, alcohol remains the most frequently abused substance by youth in Florida.
"As I travel the state to attend town hall meetings, it is evident that our communities are committed to addressing this serious problem," said Bill Janes, Director of the Florida Office of Drug Control. "We can no longer accept underage drinking as a community norm. Our community coalitions must empower families and youth to change the norm."
For more information on reducing underage drinking or to read more about the Changing Alcohol Norms campaign, visit to www.myflorida.com/drugcontrol .