Prevention groups hope ‘sticker shock’ will help keep kids sober


Past attempts targeted package stores and liquor shops.
This year, local responsible drinking advocates are setting their sights on your holiday turkey.

“The SPC (Southern Providence County) Regional Prevention Coalition, which includes Johnston Prevention Coalition, is participating in a Thanksgiving Sticker Shock Campaign,” according to Patricia Sweet, Director of Prevention Programs & SPC Regional Prevention Task Force and the Tri-County Community Action Agency. “(The) Sticker Shock Campaign is a national campaign to reduce underage drinking by limiting youth access to alcohol. The campaign is designed to discourage adults from buying alcohol for minors.”

The campaign aims “to inform, educate and remind our community of the implications of selling and providing alcohol to underage youth.”
Sweet contacted several local grocery chains, looking for a partner for this year’s Thanksgiving-themed initiative.

She said both Shaw’s and Stop & Shop didn’t return her calls.
Market Basket, however, which opened a location in Johnston over the summer, replied with enthusiasm.

“The campaign gives us the opportunity to create connections between retailers and the community at large,” Sweet wrote in a statement. “We work with retailers to provide important prevention messaging to curb youth use. It is important to engage the community and work with partners to assist us because we cannot do it alone.”

Past attempts have targeted local alcohol sellers; the stickers were affixed to bottles and six-pack holders.

“This campaign is usually done with alcohol retailers, where youth go to the liquor stores and place stickers on the alcoholic beverage containers to remind those who are purchasing alcohol not to provide alcohol to minors,” Sweet wrote. “We have also created stickers for pizza restaurants stickers are placed on the pizza boxes. This is our first time we created stickers to go on the turkeys and stuffing boxes in markets.”

The Tri-County Community Action Agency has an office at 1126 Hartford Ave., close to the new Market Basket, at 1300 Hartford Ave.
Sweet said her organization greatly appreciates the company’s partnership in this year’s Sticker Shock evolution.

She serves as an advanced prevention specialist who works with local prevention specialists, coordinating prevention coalitions in the towns of Johnston, Smithfield, North Providence, Scituate and Cranston.

“Youth who start drinking alcohol at a young age have a higher chance to develop a dependence later on,” Sweet said. “Adolescents are more vulnerable to risky substance use because the brain is not fully developed until age 26. Alcohol affects kids brain differently than an adult brain.”

Although adults are the Sticker Shock targets, young people are the intended beneficiate of the campaign.

“It can actually cause serious harm to the still developing adolescent brain (ages 10-25 years old),” Sweet explained. “Research shows that teenagers delay drinking when they get clear messages from their parents that drinking is unacceptable.”

Sixth-graders from the Nicholas A. Ferri Middle School — Mackenzie Denton, Izabella Urena, Anthony Hopp, Lea Petrillo, Isabella Jean, Islas Troxell, and Shayla Delvecchio — stormed the turkey isle at Market Basket on Tuesday afternoon on Nov. 16.

The students are members of Above The Influence (ATI), an organization that strives to keep its members, and their friends and families, sober.

Carolyn Carnevale, Ferri’s ATI advisor and also a sixth-grade teacher, accompanied her students Tuesday.

“It’s important for them to know,” she said before the stickers were handed out. “Underage drinking is not healthy for them.”

Kaitlyn Maggiore, a Tri-County and Johnston Prevention Coalition Coordinator, handed the stickers out to the sixth-graders, and two Johnston High School juniors who turned out to help — Emma Homenick and Melanie Capraro.

“Teens can drink and are starting to drive,” Capraro said, explaining why the Sticker Shock campaign is important. “If they drink and drive, they could kill or injure themselves or other people.”

Xavier Taylor, Market Basket’s assistant store manager in Johnston, said the store will sell “thousands of turkeys” this year.

A small warning to families will be affixed to most of those turkeys. Prevention advocates hope the warnings will hit home, and families may think twice before allowing younger feast participants to indulge in drinking alcohol.

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