Under the Dome

Portion of ABC sales could help reduce underage drinking

The NC Insider reports that ABC Commission Chairman Jim Gardner has been meeting with legislative leaders to urge them to dedicate a small portion of taxes collected on alcohol sales to go toward a new initiative to reduce underage drinking.

Gardner, in an interview Tuesday with the Insider, said the program would be modeled on one in Utah credited with reducing underage drinking in that state.

The initiative focuses on raising awareness among parents about the dangers of underage drinking, falling in line with research showing that parental disapproval trumps peer pressure.

The effort is expected to involve a media and education campaign, along with increased law enforcement. Gardner said he hopes to convince legislators to dedicate 2.5 percent, or about $2.35 million, of taxes collected on alcohol sales in the state to the program.

“All of our legislators are parents and grandparents. They know what the problem is,” Gardner said.

The ABC Commission would also use $500,000 from its existing budget for the effort.

Gardner acknowledged that there may be some pushback from the idea of a dedicated revenue source, but said he wants to establish an ongoing program that will continue to reduce underage drinking and associated problems, included alcohol-related deaths and crime.