New campaign aims to reduce underage drinking in RI

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island is one of more than 40 states with a Social Host Law, and the new “Rhode Rules for Rhode Island” campaign aims to raise awareness of the law and reduce underage drinking in the state.

A new study found almost 59% of Rhode Islanders ages 18 to 20 say they’ve received alcohol from a friend or relative who is over the age of 21. Among the youth surveyed, 35% reported getting alcohol from a parent or guardian.

According to the R.I. Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, alcohol use harms the health of adolescents by impacting brain development and decision-making skills.

The Social Host Law says it’s illegal to buy, provide and supply alcohol to anyone under the legal drinking age, as well as provide a place for those under the age of 21 to drink.

Violations of the law are punishable by up to $1,000 in fines or six months in prison for first-time offenders, along with mandatory educational programs approved by the Department of Health.

The new campaign seeks to not only make more people aware of the law, but also encourage adults to think twice before giving alcohol to minors.

“I want to say to those parents, those aunts, those uncles, those cousins who want to be the cool parent, the cool auntie, the cool uncle: there’s nothing cool about what you’re doing. Absolutely nothing. You should be ashamed of yourself,” Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones said.

The campaign was launched by six of the state’s prevention coalitions made up of families, elected officials, health care providers, and law enforcement, who are all focused on supporting the health and safety of their communities.

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