Crossover Day Update

Crossover Day – the second longest work day on the Georgia General Assembly calendar – has wrapped up leaving some key juvenile justice and child-focused bills dead for the 2011 session. SB 127, also known as the Juvenile Code Rewrite and HB 185, the Runaway Youth Safety Act, that would allow homeless shelters to provide emergency housing and services to runaway children, are among the measures that didn’t meet the crucial deadline. VIEW SOME OF THE KEY JUVENILE JUSTICE AND CHILD-FOCUSED LEGISLATION. “It had not made it out of [the] Rules [Committee] in time and that’s very disappointing,” says HB 185 sponsor Tom Weldon (R – Ringgold). “It looked like it was going to progress.”

HB 265, which supports Governor Nathan Deal’s recent effort to assemble a new bi-partisan council to study criminal justice reforms and make recommendations to a joint legislative committee, was overwhelmingly approved by the House, 169-1.

Parents Get a Dramatic Look at Teen Drinking Parties

The suburban living room pulsed with the bass from loud music. The repetitive thud, thud, thud vibrated the floor and walls. The teens danced, arms raised in the air, waving bottles and glasses. They shouted, screamed, and called out to one another. The girls moved provocatively while the boys watched approvingly.

Inside an Underage Drinking Party

If you’d like to know what happens at a teenage drinking party when the parents aren’t around, check out the latest event from the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce.  The Taskforce Youth Council plans to stage a mock underage drinking party inside a Marietta home.  The kids are prepared to show you what goes on, and answer questions. The event is free, and only for adults, on the evening of Saturday, February 12.  Registration required, click here for more info.

Holiday Season Offers Opportunity for Families to Communicate About Drinking

December 14, 2010, Marietta, GA – The holiday season offers an excellent opportunity for parents to communicate with their children about drinking says the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce.”Children who live in homes where alcohol is not the focus of holiday celebrations and get togethers may be less likely to grow up thinking that drinking is the key ingredient to having a good time,” says Cathy Finck, Taskforce Coordinator. “Parents should keep in mind that children are very observant and may be more influenced by adult behavior than what parents actually tell them about drinking.” Recent research even suggests that holidays may be one environmental factor that can increase risk or confer protection from alcoholism within families. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, alcoholism may become more harmful to family functioning and more likely to be passed to the next generation if drinking interferes with such activities as dinner times, holidays, vacations and other family rituals. Conversely, researchers believe that maintenance of family rituals, even through years characterized by heavy drinking, may prevent alcoholism from being passed between generations.

Vote for the Best Teen Video on Underage Drinking

High schoolers have produced some pretty creative videos about underage drinking and parent responsibilities. They are posted on  SchoolTube.  The Cobb Alcohol Taskforce is sponsoring a Youth PSA Contest and it’s time for you to vote for your favorite one. The video with the highest number of views will win a $300 prize. There will also be a runner up and a third place winner. Some of these teens have pulled out all the stops.

30-Proof Whipped Cream Spikes New Health Concerns

On the heels of the fight to keep caffeine-packed alcoholic “energy drinks” out of the hands of young people, a new health concern is emerging over a new product — whipped cream with a twist. Cans of flavored alcohol-infused whipped cream, yes whipped cream, with names like Cream and Whipped Lightening have been popping up on local liquor store shelves. Much like the alcoholic energy drinks that the Federal Drug Administration threatened to ban in November (the maker of the controversial Four Loko brand has agreed to remove caffeine and two other ingredients, guarana and taurine), the toppings come in flavors like raspberry, German chocolate, cherry, Amaretto, caramel and vanilla flavors, which are especially inviting to young people. Similarly these so-called “whipahols” also pack a powerful punch at 15 percent alcohol, about 30-proof. Depending on how much is consumed, some experts contend, that can be about three times the amount found in beer.

FDA Bans Energy Drinks with Alcohol

The federal government has ordered beverage companies to stop selling drinks that combine caffeine and alcohol in U.S. markets.  The drinks with names like Four Loko, Joose and Moonshot, are often nicknamed ‘Cocaine in a Can’ or ‘Blackout in a Can’ by teens and young adults.  USAToday.com reports the companies that produce these drinks, including Phusion Projects and United Brands, have 15 days to comply or the FDA may seize their products. The fruit flavored drinks have deceptively high alcohol content and produce what some experts call a ‘wide-awake drunk’ that police link to accidents and illnesses across the country. In Georgia, activists like the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce have been pushing for a ban. Coordinator Cathy Finck told JJIE.org, “When you mix a depressant like alcohol with a stimulant like caffeine it confuses the nervous system in the body… Binge drinking is more likely to occur with this potent mixture. One brand in particular has 12 percent alcohol in just one can.

Alcoholic Energy Drinks Banned by Some States

Students nationwide have been getting sick from alcoholic energy drinks, spurring several states to ban them, according to USA Today. After nine Central Washington University students got ill, Washington State restricted the sale of products that combine “beer, strong beer, or malt liquor with caffeine, guarana, taurine or other similar substances,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains. Utah, Oklahoma, Montana and Michigan have also restricted the sale of caffeinated malt liquors. As JJIE.org reported this week, the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce is fighting for a ban on alcoholic energy drinks. Taskforce members complain that manufacturers market the cheap drinks (about $3 per 24-ounces) nicknamed “blackout in a can” and “cocaine in a can” to young people using fruit flavors that mask the taste of alcohol.

Reporter's Notebook: Beverage Buzz – I Had No Idea Alcoholic Energy Drinks Were Such A Big Deal

I remember the very first time I tasted an energy drink. As a long-suffering veteran of media jobs that came with odd hours, I thought anything that could potentially carry me through a dreaded overnight shift was certainly worth a try. When I finally took a sip of the product that was all the rage at the time, I thought it tasted like a flat cream soda and, quite frankly, I never went back for more. Now many moons later I’m shocked and, well, appalled to learn that the accusations abound that the makers of these sugary caffeinated concoctions have now added alcohol to their mix and have allegedly set their sights on young people as their target market. My story about the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce’s efforts to stop these potent drinks from getting in the hands of young people was a real eye opener for me personally.

Cobb Alcohol Taskforce Targets ‘Cocaine In A Can’

On two separate occasions this year Cathy Finck lined up energy drink cans before a group of teenagers and their parents and asked them to point out which ones did or did not contain alcohol. Neither crowd passed the informal test. (Take our test here)

“Very few got all of the answers right because the packaging for both look very much the same,” she recalls, noting that both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions typically are packaged in brightly-colored cans with eye-catching graphics. “It’s really hard to tell the difference. That’s very disturbing considering the fact that the majority of those who drink these drinks are young people.”

Finck and fellow Cobb Alcohol Taskforce members say that the outcome of their exercises conveys one of the many reasons why the caffeine-laden alcoholic energy drinks often marketed to young people should be permanently pulled from Georgia store shelves.