Crime & Courts

ABC Commission campaign targets underage drinking in NC

The N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission is embarking on a campaign to stop underage drinking.

The campaign will begin this fall with $1.5 million in funding using ABC Commission money, approved by the state budget office. Most of that will go toward TV, radio, print and social media ads to raise awareness about underage drinking in North Carolina.

Ultimately, the commission wants to team with the Department of Public Instruction to get more instruction about the dangers of underage drinking to middle school students.

The ads, which are being shot this week, feature families whose lives have been affected by underage drinking, and will direct parents and children to a website with facts and ways to start a conversation about the topic.

In surveys paid for by the ABC Commission, 57 percent of children interviewed said underage drinking is a serious problem.

Jim Gardner, chairman of the ABC Commission, said any successful effort will require $3 million in annual funding and legislative approval.

“You’re not going to talk this problem away, and you can’t treat it away,” Gardner said. “You’re going to have to make a decision that the state needs to do something about this. That means a commitment of assets and that means you’ve got to do it over a long period of time.”

Gardner, a former congressman, lieutenant governor and three-time candidate for governor, said he will spend much of his time next year lobbying the legislature to fund the program. He said it is difficult to get any money out of the legislature, even though the ABC Commission generates $600 million in profits. The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.