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Teen Drivers and Alcohol

March 20, 1993

Thank you for your excellent coverage and accompanying editorial of the National Traffic Safety Board's recommendations regarding alcohol-impaired driving among minors. Your article serves as a wake-up call--for parents especially--to realize that every 57 seconds a teen-ager dies in an alcohol-related crash.

The policies offered in your editorial represent a significant message to minors about not drinking. Zero tolerance in particular is a strong message, hitting young people where it matters most: transportation! But it is critical to acknowledge other dimensions of the drinking environments that young people live in, and simultaneously promote policies that address the liquor industry's targeting of young people.

Advertising that uses cartoon figures and other images that appeal to youth must be regulated. Products are continually being designed for the youth market, with campaigns to prop up these products as the "in" thing. Malt liquor campaigns built around key rappers are a perfect example of the kind of targeting that results in underage drinking.

Retailers sell to minors every day in Los Angeles. While there are many retailers who do follow the rules, many retailers avoid sales to minors just because of the perceptions that they may get busted. Youth tell us that alcohol is incredibly easy to obtain. This level of availability must change for the National Traffic Safety Board's recommendations to make any impact. Your editorial is a good first step in the right direction!

ANGELA GOLDBERG, Chair

L.A. County Alcohol Policy Coalition

Pasadena

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