Prevention Wins In 2010 Election

November 3, 2010

I was heartened to see the outcome of several ballot measures that could have had a serious negative impact on teen substance abuse.

In Oregon, voters rejected Ballot Measure 74, which would have created a system of unlimited dispensaries for medical marijuana. Proponents said it would help patients get their marijuana. Opponents said it would raise the prices for patients significantly, exempt dispensary operators and their staff from any prosecution, create major money generating operations, all the while it would increase the availability to vulnerable youth.

California voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that would have made it the first state to legalize the personal use and possession of marijuana.

In Washington state, the voters look to have turned down two initiatives that would privatize liquor sales and overhaul beer- and wine-distribution rules. Had they passed, the number of alcohol outlets in the state would have increased ten-fold.  Again, the issue is ready availability to youth as well as problem drinkers.

A defeat for those measures is a win for our youth and a win for prevention.

– Tom


Four Loko – “Blackout in a can”

October 28, 2010

"Blackout in a can"The alcoholic energy drink Four Loko has achieved “Cult” status among underage drinkers, especially high school students.

Nine students at Central Washington University were hospitalized on October 8  after consuming four Loko.  Some of them had blood alcohol levels above .300 – considered lethal. In September, 23 students at Ramapo College in northern New Jersey were laid to waste drinking Four Loko.

Four Loko is a sweet, 12 percent alcohol, highly-caffeinated and carbonated beverage in a soda pop-styled 23.5 oz can. It’s the nuclear bomb of alcoholic energy drinks (AEDs).

The result: A wide-awake drunk. Until acute alcohol poisoning finally causes passing out. Or worse. If a 120 pound person were to consume two in just one hour, they would have a potentially fatal blood alcohol level.

There are several Facebook pages dedicated to Four Loko and its side effects. Check out some of the comments from Facebook pages “The last thing I remember was opening the 4 loko” and “Save Four Loko“:

“The first time i drank 4loko. I gave a girl two tattos…i never tatted before that night.”

“It’s the only drink that everyone in my town likes i gess (sic) well just have to do drugs now since its cocaine anyways.”

“I got tackled by the cops during a 4 hr blackout, and lost my brand new droid all in the same night.”

“Drank 2 of them in record time and was on ambien… I could’ve sworn we were getting chased by zombies, and i missed my college exam the next morning.”

“Drank two in about 45 minutes not thinking much, I get in my car… and as I’m driving it hits super hard. I guess I was swerving all over the road, and I made it to this party. Walk in… sit down…pass out.”

“Didnt believe my friends when they said they were blackouts in a can….beer bonged two and I was a sloppy mess.”

Combining caffeine with alcohol is dangerous because caffeine masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol, allowing the user to feel like they are not getting drunk as quickly, enabling them to drink more with potentially lethal results. A person drinking an AED is more likely to drive while intoxicated.

Openly discuss this with those in your circle. Educate them on the risks they could be taking with their lives and those of their friends.

This is not “cool”. This is not a simple” rite of passage”.

It’s flirting with death.


“Face It, Parents” Spring Break Campaign Wants to Keep Kids Active

March 19, 2010

 A Spring Break campaign gets under way this week raising  awareness about the dangers of underage drinking, keeping kids healthy, and offering alternatives.

“We know that at Spring Break or during any extended time away from school one of the key points for parents is keeping their kids active and busy,” says Emily Moser, Oregon Partnership’s Parenting Programs Director.

During Spring Break, teens should enjoy their time off in healthy ways, such as sports, outdoor activities, art projects and volunteering in the community.

A list of suggested activities and links will be featured on Oregon Partnership’s website at

The campaign is part of the Oregon Department of Human Services “Face it, Parents” underage drinking prevention initiative, coordinated by Oregon Partnership and Community Action to Reduce Substance Abuse (CARSA).

A letter from Portland area law enforcement officials, including Portland Police Chief, Rosie Sizer and Multnomah County Sheriff Daniel Staton,  will be going out to parents explaining that to help prevent underage drinking, parents have more influence over their teens than anyone.

Free movie tickets (limit of two per request) for the week of March 22nd will also be available on the website while supplies last.  The tickets will be good for admission to any Regal theater.  Just call Oregon Partnership at 503-244-5211.

Face it, Parents public service announcements will be airing on radio stations, KGON (92.3 FM), The Buzz (105.1 FM) and K-103 (103.3 FM).

Suggestions for parents:
    *Talk to each of your children and express your strong disapproval of  
     underage alcohol and drug use.  This is a very powerful step!

     *Tell your teens they may not go to parties where alcohol or drugs are consumed, but remind them that they can always call you if they get into a bad situation.  Still, check with other parents before you allow your teen to attend a party.

    *Monitor your home alcohol supplies.  Kids often get alcohol from homes.  Consider a lock for your liquor cabinet or storing less alcohol in your home, and track alcohol supplies.

 *Report any suspected parties to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s dispatch center at (503) 872-5070.
     *Plan fun activities for your teen and family.  For activity ideas during spring break, visit  Don’t be fooled when your kids says it’s not cool to do things with parents. They really value the time you spend with them. 

          For more information about underage drinking and resources for families,   

Oregon Partnership: Advertising Happy Hour Bad Idea

February 10, 2010

Oregon Partnership’s Pete Schulberg testified at yesterday’s OLCC hearing on a proposed rule that would relax advertising on happy hours:

Just last week, I was here for the hearing on the liquor store advertising rule change.  My focus then…and as it is now for the rule change on happy hour….is that advertising of alcohol is at an all-time high.  That advertising of hard liquor is more pervasive and effective than ever.

And we certainly appreciate how the economy is impacting bars and restaurants.  And it’s tough not to be sympathetic to the folks trying to operate a successful business and employing local folks.  But enticing or luring people with cheaper drinks through advertising is something Oregon Partnership opposes.

It is an inducement to heavier consumption and all the problems and expense that come with it.  More DUI’s.  More domestic abuse…more accidents…more health hazards.

As I said at last week’s hearing, there is study after study that show the direct correlation between the amount of alcohol advertising and how often and how much young people drink.  And that’s why some states – Illinois is a good example – that disallows establishments to lower alcohol prices at certain times of the day or night.

Those most sensitive to price reduction are young and underage drinkers….and problem drinkers.

For all those reasons, Oregon Partnership is against the concept of happy hour, and we certainly oppose the advertising of it. 

Oregon Partnership’s position is in support of advertising food specials but we oppose the advertising of discounted drinks, drink specials, temporary price reductions, and prices of alcoholic drinks period.

And we understand the proposed rule does ban happy hour advertising when it does include a specified time period along with prices and price reductions.  But that, after all,  is what happy hour is.  And so because of that, we object to the promotion of it.

We have no objection to an establishment posting the menu with prices in the window or on the premises of the establishment.  That’s consumer information, not advertising.

There are enough ways now– more than ever – for consumers to find bargains, find out prices, and get deals – on happy hour without loosening rules that are already in place for a reason.

Liquor Store Advertising: Oregon Partnership’s Warnings

February 5, 2010


Pete Schulberg, Communications Director of Oregon Partnership, testified this week before a hearing of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission on an amendment of  a rule governing the liquor store advertising.

Schulberg warned that liquor advertising is “a run-away train” that doesn’t need more support from the state:

Having been involved in advertising in one way or another for most of my professional life, I’d like to just make it clear: 

Although the proposed amendment to the Retail Liquor Store Advertising rule is relatively specific about what the stores can do or can’t do and how they must be based on the standards contained in the Retail Operations Manual….I think we must all remember that advertising is a moving target. And just when we think we have it figured out, here comes the online universe. 

Advertising distribution has never been more diverse thanks to the social media…but I guarantee you, next year, we’ll be sitting here and Twitter will be old hat.  The digital media is moving so fast that no one can keep up.

So my point is that advertising of alcohol has never in the history of the world been more diverse, more effective, and more pervasive in our society.  Distilled spirits are being advertised all across cable TV.  And that old message of parents should control what their kids are watching: Forget about it. I’m watching a sporting event with my kids, and we are deluged with commercials for everything from vodka to whisky.

At Oregon Partnership, we have had some great relationships with Oregon’s liquor store agents.  We have partnered with them and with the OLCC..and certainly, they should be allowed to have signage near their stores….and even the products they sell on their websites.

But beyond that, we should all realize that the research about alcohol advertising and marketing is a slam dunk and clearly shows that alcohol advertising and marketing have a significant impact on decisions to drink by teenagers and underage drinkers.

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth can show us study after study of the direct correlation between the amount of alcohol advertising and how often and how much young people drink.

And I don’t have to tell you where young people, those who are under 21, college students – are getting their information, are seeing the ads, are reading the posts…..ON THE INTERNET.  And in addition to problem drinkers, the demographic that is the most price-sensitive to deciding what alcohol to buy…is the under-21 demographic.

 So when we hear that prices may be included on liquor store websites, we at Oregon Partnership say that’s going to be more teens checking it out on line…more teens shopping for alcohol on line…and more problems for all of us ahead. And who more than anyone is going to be shopping for alcohol prices on line: College students….18, and 19 and 20 year old college students.

Again, there is more advertising of alcohol than ever.  It is more effective and pervasive than ever.  So when we can realistically and legally somehow put a halt to this runaway train, we should.

Alcohol Ads Out of Control – Even in Russia!

September 21, 2009

Oregon Partnership and other non-profits are warning that alcohol advertising is rampant (especially on TV) and the industry is always looking at ways to increase its reach to young people.   Maybe Russia has the right idea….according to this item from Join Together newsletter:

Alcohol advertising would be banned and sales limited by location and time of day under a plan endorsed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, CBC News reported Sept. 11.

 Medvedev called alcoholism in Russia a “national disaster” in unveiling plans that also include bans on sales of large containers of beer and prison sentences for those convicted of selling alcohol to youths under age 18.

 The new rules would go into effect before the end of the year. Experts say that more than half of all deaths in Russia are related to alcohol use.

Just what we don’t need – more alcohol advertising

September 1, 2009

It’s not exactly a news flash.  But the advertising of alcohol is at an all-time bender.  Beer manufacturers are sponsoring concerts, festivals and sporting events at an historic rate. Tune into cable channels, and you’ll see commercials for hard liquor – something that just a few years ago, was unheard of.

And don’t think the TV networks and local stations are watching this phenomenon closely.  After years of a self-imposed ban, the networks are sure to take advantage of this growing acceptance of hard liquor advertising. And when that happens, you’ll see more alcohol ads on TV than car ads.

And now, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission says it will re-examine a rule to ban restaurants and bars from advertising lower priced drinks at happy hours.  The OLCC says the rules are outdated, pointing to an absence of what should be allowed on websites and elsewhere in the on-line universe.  And besides, the OLCC claims, it doesn’t have the resources to enforce such rules.

Oregon Partnership’s position is clear and the evidence bears it out:  If you allow more advertising of alcohol prices – which now is pretty much banned by the OLCC to prevent highly-advertised price wars – more people will abuse alcohol.  And underage drinkers – who are especially price-sensitive – will take notice and take action.

If the rules need to be brought into the 21st century, OP says lets update them. But to say that we need more alcohol advertising – and to relax restrictions on advertising prices – is unwise and dangerous.