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CD fights underage drinking

March 20, 2003

By Matthew Robinson

Last year the Baylor Department of Public Safety caught 191 underage students drinking alcohol, Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak said. The department also issued 28 citations for minors in possession of alcohol and seven citations for driving under the influence of alcohol.

To combat this kind of alcohol abuse found on universities across the country, a new compact disc program, Alcohol 101, now is available for free from the Century Council.

According to its Web site, the Century Council is a nonprofit organization funded by some of America's leading distillers, including Bacardi USA, Inc., Brown-Forman and Pernod Ricard USA. The organization is dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.

A need for change

'It is essential that every single college have access to this educational tool, [which is] designed to help students make safe and responsible decisions about alcohol,' said Susan Molinari, chairwoman of the Century Council.

Molinari said that on average, 80 percent of freshmen drink nearly six drinks a week. and this trend must be countered with effective education.

'By systematically incorporating this CD in orientation programs, fraternity gatherings and athletic programs, we hope to have a significant influence on students' ability to make safe and responsible decisions about alcohol,' Molinari said.

The Century Council gathered input from students who used the first CD program, released five years ago, and other college students to learn what tactics work most effectively

Virtual effects

The CD, which can be ordered from the Century Council's Web site, www.centurycouncil.org, lets users visit a virtual bar and after virtually drinking, learn about the effects that alcohol has on the blood level.

'We sponsored focus groups across the country to find out what they [college students] would actually use,' Leslie Mills, director of public relations of the Century Council, said. 'They make their own decisions, so it's not preachy like the average program you would find in a health class.'

Instead of the general approach to all college students used on the previous CD, the new program targets specific groups, such as freshmen, Greek organizations, athletes and 'judicial policy offenders.' Users also can visit a first-year residence or decide for a basketball player if he should have a drink several days before his game.

Positive results

Mills said good feedback came from students who tried the virtual bar. She said they enjoyed learning how alcohol would affect their friends as well.

Users get to see the effects of alcohol on themselves and others, based on gender, weight, the number of drinks, elapsed time, drinking speed and food intake.

Alcohol 101 also addresses the physical effects of alcohol and information about traffic safety and drunk driving.

According to the Century Council press release, its mission 'is to promote responsible decision-making regarding drinking or nondrinking of beverage alcohol and to discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs.'

Wirtlin Worldwide conducted a national survey in 2001 to find out how well adults are educated about alcohol. The survey showed that although 77 percent of adults believe they know enough about drinking and driving, 72 percent don't even know the legal blood alcohol concentration levels of their states.