Students "Take Back" Billboards To Reduce Alcohol Advertising

By Kelly Burch 03/15/19
A group of enterprising students is taking a stand against alcohol abuse.
new billboard aimed at stopping underage drinking
Photo via ABC30

A school in California is trying to reduce the number of alcohol advertisements that its students see, by purchasing billboard ad space and "replacing" alcohol ads with messages that encourage kids to avoid drinking. 

The Friday Night Live chapter at Roosevelt High School in Fresno purchased the ad space and filled it with an ad showing teens who chose education over alcohol. There are plans for at least one more billboard in Fresno. 

Fresno Unified School District Superintendent Bob Nelson told ABC 30, "For folks that are making good choices and prioritizing education over drugs and alcohol that you have some like-minded colleagues. So kids finding each other and willing to say, 'Hey I'm not willing to let anything get in my way of college,' is a really strong message.”

The students' billboard shows eight students from Roosevelt High with the caption "I choose my education over alcohol." 

Students at the school say that alcohol use is universally accepted there, so taking a dramatic stance with something as visible as a billboard is important. 

Sophomore Nicole Lee said, “When we go to parties, my uncles would give my cousins drinks when they're 18, so you're basically breaking the law. I came to a point where I'm taking a stand so I'm going to do something to change that.” 

Christina Garcia, another sophomore, agreed that talking about the dangers of alcohol for teens is important. 

"Coming from me as a youth, I have friends that say drinking is this and drinking is my life—and OK it's your life but what about your life? You're just going to throw away your life for alcohol," she said.

Despite the experiences of Roosevelt High students, researchers have found that teen drinking rates are actually decreasing. According to researchers who conduct the Monitoring The Future survey, which looks at substance use among middle and high school students, teen drinking peaked in 1997 and has decreased 60% since then. 

Last year, binge drinking among seniors in high school decreased by 2.8%. Fourteen percent of high school seniors reported that they had engaged in binge drinking in the prior two weeks. 

At the same time, vaping of nicotine and marijuana has increased dramatically among teens, worrying health experts.

More than 7% of teens reported that they had vaped marijuana in the past 30 days, while the percentage of teens who had vaped nicotine doubled to 21%. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.