MONTGOMERY – Summer has officially arrived, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) reminds parents that since teens are out of school, they have more free time – often at home alone or with friends. What is to stop them from consuming alcoholic beverages and tobacco products?
“Parental involvement is key,” said Lt. Darick Wilson, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation’s Alcohol/Tobacco Enforcement Division. “Some parents may not realize just how important a role they play in preventing underage use of alcohol and tobacco.”
An involved parent who communicates with his or her teen has a greater chance of making a positive impact on their teen, Wilson said, adding that parents may find the following tips helpful during the summer break and throughout the year:
- Talk with your teen – and listen to them: Ask about plans before they leave home to meet friends, to attend parties, to “hang” with their buddies. Insist they inform you if those plans change. Teens who do not have adult supervision are far more likely to consume alcohol and/or tobacco.
- Monitor banking activity: More and more teens have their own bank accounts and debit cards. Frequently check their accounts for unusual activity. If he or she spent $15 at a gas station but didn’t purchase gas, ask about the purchase.
- Inspect their wallets, purses and backpacks: Look for fake IDs.
- If you have alcohol and/or tobacco products at home, keep them locked up if possible: Closely monitor your inventory, and keep an eye out for missing products.
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their friends’ parents: Make sure your teen isn’t obtaining alcohol and/or tobacco products from their friends’ parents.
- Look for changes in behavior: Have you noticed a difference in your teen’s temperament or disposition? Are they sleeping more or less? Are they hanging around a different crowd? (During the school year, have you noticed declining grades?)
- Know the law: In Alabama, you must be 21 or older to consume alcoholic beverages, and 19 and older to use tobacco products.
To report a business that is willfully selling these products to minors, please contact your local law enforcement office.