Steamboat Springs Keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors by checking identification is easy, Kay Stuart, owner of Market on the Mountain, said Tuesday. Persuading adults not to purchase booze for kids is much more difficult.
On Tuesday, Stuart's liquor store - one of 25 alcohol merchants in Routt County - was the first to display a four-inch sign that stated, "Don't Provide Alcohol to Minors - It's the Law."
"We are hoping that as adults come in to buy alcohol for minors, they'll see that sign on the door and think twice," she said.
Colleen Lyon, Routt County director of the Grand Future Prevention Coalition, created the window decals in the hope that every Routt County alcohol merchant takes an extra step beyond checking identification to curb underage drinking.
"We are just trying to be more supportive of their efforts in keeping adults from purchasing alcohol for minors," Lyon said. "When adults are purchasing for minors, the business owners don't have anything to do about that and this is one way they can help us address that."
Kristi Brown, a Steamboat Springs restaurant and bar owner who works with the Youth Wellness Initiative, said recent efforts by the Steamboat Springs Police Department to crack down on liquor license holders who sold to minors was an easy first step.
"But it's not easy to crack down on ordinary citizens, parents, neighbors and friends, who are the majority of the problem we are trying to address," Brown said.
In a 2005 study conducted by the American Medical Association, one-third of teens surveyed said their parents knowingly supplied them with alcohol. Forty percent said they received alcohol from a friend's parents, and 25 percent said they have attended a party where minors were drinking alcohol in front of parents.
"The study also showed that in general, about two-thirds of kids are getting their alcohol from adults - that's where I think the focus of our efforts should be," said Brown, who hopes to expand the program into Moffat County.
"We don't get many minors in Steamboat trying to buy alcohol," she said. "It's not a problem because kids are smarter than that. They have easier ways to access alcohol. Why would they walk in from the street with no ID and try to buy it themselves when they could easily ask someone who is 21, who they are comfortable with asking?"
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said he supports the use of the signs and urged all alcohol merchants to prominently display them.
"Our primary goal here is prevention," he said. "It's much better to keep alcohol out of the hands of teens in the first place. I'd love to see the signs on the front door of every liquor store in town."
Lyon said the window signs are part of an underage drinking tool kit for alcohol merchants, which can be obtained for free by contacting Lyon at 879-6188.
"Our goal is that anyone who goes to get a liquor license, they get one of these through the city," she said. "At liquor stores, gas stations and grocery stores - we hope these signs become recognizable to everyone who enters the building."