Story last updated at 6/3/2009 - 12:15 pm
SITKA - Most parents want to protect their children from tobacco and alcohol, but it may surprise them to know where most youth who use tobacco and/or alcohol get their supplies. Research shows that 65 percent of youth get their tobacco products from a friend or family member, and 80 percent of youth report their last drink of alcohol occurred at a friend's house or in their own home.
The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Tobacco Control and Behavioral Health Prevention programs have teamed up to introduce a series of five fliers that target youth access to tobacco and alcohol throughout the region. The flier campaign will take place over five months in the communities of Angoon, Haines, Hydaburg, Juneau, Kake, Kasaan, Klawock, Klukwan, Pelican, Petersburg, Sitka, Thorne Bay and Wrangell. Fliers will be posted in local health clinics, at local businesses, at schools, libraries and other places around the communities.
Each flier has the headline, "Dei A Wé," which is Tlingít for "Enough." In Hydaburg, the same fliers have the headline, "Háwsdluwaan," which is Haida for "That's enough, stop doing that." The fliers have five different messages about who supplies youth with tobacco and alcohol, and one flier also lists the various criminal penalties for an adult who buys alcohol or tobacco for youth.
"We want people to know that it's not OK to allow adults in our communities to buy harmful substances for our youth," said Glade Morales, SEARHC Tobacco Policy Coordinator. "Youth access to alcohol and tobacco is way too easy. It should not be possible for children to take alcohol or tobacco from the cupboard in your kitchen or your dresser drawer.
"We, as a society, make it way too easy for kids to get these types of substances, and it's time for a change. Adults need to be responsible, and think twice when they leave their purse on the counter with cigarettes, or when they leave their beer in the fridge when a kid is at home all summer.."
"Part of the Dei A Wé campaign also focuses on those who buy for youth and what their motives are," said Rebecca Howe, SEARHC Behavioral Health Prevention Director. "Having worked with youth for years, I have heard countless stories of youth, both male and female, being taken advantage of by the older person who is supplying to them. This is a common theme in sexual assault toward youth and one that isn't talked about a lot. I hope this campaign sparks a dialog between adults and youth to teach about these real dangers that exist within our communities."
For more information about the "Dei a Wé" flier campaign, contact Rebecca Howe at 966-8753 or Glade Morales at 966-8745.