Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Programme targeting underage drinkers to take effect this month

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM
(From left) Red Stripe's Diane Ashton-Smith, Erin Mitchell and Toni-Ann Reid at the Smirnoff Xclusive Celebrity Playground party at Wavz, Negril, recently.
From left: Miss Jamaica World 2014 Laurie-Ann Chin; Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna; Greta Bogues, executive member of the Jamaica Alcoholic Beverages Association; Cedric Blair, managing director of Red Stripe; and Dianne Ashton-Smith, head of corporate relations at Red Stripe, during the launch of the WE I.D. programme.
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Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

As the countdown to the WE I.D. programme by Red Stripe gets ready to take effect later this month, the company believes that the initiative can be successful as long as all participants work together.

The legal age for drinking in Jamaica is 18, but studies have shown that access to alcohol in Jamaica is not properly monitored, resulting in many underage partygoers having easy access to alcohol. It was with this in mind that the beer company sought to launch the WE I.D. programme, which will seek to involve the participation of retailers (supermarkets, wholesalers, community bars and sports bars) by asking retailers to request that consumers present a valid ID in order to purchase alcohol.

Though the beer company has good intentions by launching this new initiative, many believe that the programme will not yield much results. In an interview with The Gleaner, head of corporate relations, Red Stripe, Dianne Ashton-Smith, said the company believes in its success and is looking to its retailers for support. "We share the view with public-health experts that it is essential to involve retailers in efforts to promote safe drinking environments and prevent harmful use of alcohol."

Worthy endeavour

While stating that they are aware of the problem the programme faces, she explained that the company believes the possibility of it being successful is worth the try. "Underage drinking is a societal challenge that is only possible to prevent through expanded cooperation among government, enforcement agencies, retailers, parents, educators and others in the community."

She went on to reveal that already, there are 115 retail outlets on board who are committed to supporting the need for enforcing legal purchase-age regulations and ensuring the reduction of underage consumption in Jamaica. She also believes that no one group has all the answers or the ability to implement all the measures needed to tackle the issue, but believes that if everyone plays their part, the effect will be lessened. "It requires all stakeholders, including retailers and the industry working together," she said.

Ashton-Smith also believes that the campaign will not affect the company's sales in any way. Although the company has to consider the bottom line as a business, she doesn't anticipate that the new programme will have an effect on sales. "We are here to make money because we operate a business, but that is not the focus of the project. The project centres on the issues surrounding underage drinking with the purpose of contributing to the behavioural change in young people under the legal purchase age."

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com