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A minor bar - We I.D. programme targets underage drinking

Published:Thursday | August 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Olympian Warren Weir, signing the IPledge board. - Ian Allen/Photographer
Lisa Hanna (second right), minister of youth and culture, converses with Michael Tucker (left), head of the National Council on Drug Abuse; Greta Bogues (second left), executive of the Jamaica Alcohol Beverage Association; and Cedric Blair, managing director of Red Stripe, at yesterday's launch of the We I.D. programme at Red Stripe's headquarters, 214 Spanish Town Road, St Andrew.
Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna (left) with sprinter Warren Weir, both wearing Drink Right buttons.
Lisa Hanna, youth and culture minister, signing the IPledge board. - Ian Allen/Photographer
Cedric Blair, managing director, Red Stripe, signing the IPledge board . - Ian Allen/Photographer

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

Right age, right amount, right way. That is the main objective of the Red Stripe's We I.D. programme, launched at the company's headquarters on Spanish Town Road, St Andrew, yesterday morning. The initiative marks the next phase in the company's Drink Right campaign, launched in December 2013, to spread the message of drinking responsibly while combating issues relating to the misuse of alcohol.

With the We I.D. initiative, Red Stripe hopes to change the culture behind alcohol consumption, especially drinking by persons under the legal age. The programme will involve the participation of retailers (supermarkets, wholesalers, community bars and sports bars), by asking employees to request that consumers present a valid ID to purchase alcohol.

The legal age for alcohol consumption in Jamaica is 18 years old.

It was made clear that the aim of the campaign is not to put a damper on fun, but is targeted at curbing children's access to alcoholic beverages.

Proud of the success of Drink Right so far, Red Stripe's managing director, Cedric Blair, described We I.D. as a bold move in the right direction. "Since the launch of the Drink Right campaign in December, we have conducted research which shows a reduction in underage patrons attending adult events and having access to alcohol," he said. "The issue of underage drinking is still one of grave concern in the country and this initiative moves us one step closer to combating the issue."

Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna made it clear that the ministry supports any programme that entails the well-being of the nation's youth. She pointed out that her ministry has to deal with young people on a daily basis and many of their behavioural problems are linked to the misuse of alcohol.

Target adults too

"The problem with our young people is that they think they have to do it all at once. They want to grow up too fast and many of them succumb to pressure," she said. While congratulating Red Stripe on their new project, the minister also suggested: "I would encourage you to target adults as well, because children live what they learn."

She also encouraged Red Stripe to push the campaign in rural Jamaica and utilise the ministry's resources, especially the National Youth Service (NYS).

In an interview with The Gleaner, Red Stripe's head of corporate relations, Diane Ashton-Smith, revealed some of the company's plans for Drink Right. "The next step for us is to partner with the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica to get more involved in the educational aspect of the campaign," Aston-Smith said.

She explained that because of the Diageo Code of Conduct, Red Stripe will not be able to go into the schools themselves, but will provide the financial and moral support needed to make the initiative a continued success.

Attending the We I.D. launch were executive member of the Jamaica Alcohol Beverage Association, Greta Bogues; head of the National Council on Drug Abuse, Michael Tucker; Miss Jamaica 2014 Laurie-Ann Chin, and Olympian Warren Weir. The specially invited guests were presented with buttons supporting the Drink Right campaign, after which they were asked to sign the company's IPledge board in support of We I.D.