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Alcohol Awareness Month launched

April's Alcohol Awareness Month was launched today with a CADA press briefing on the theme Encouraging Responsible Alcohol Behaviour.

Joined by Shadow Minister of Public Safety Walter Roban, Chief Inspector Jerome Laws of the Bermuda Police Service, CADA executive director Anthony Santucci, Junior Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs Nandi Outerbridge and Joanne Dean, the Director for National Drug Control, Premier Michael Dunkley spoke about the problems of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

“As reported by the US National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcohol abuse and alcoholism can affect all aspects of one's life,” Mr Dunkley said.

He added that long-term alcohol use can cause serious health complications that affect virtually every organ and can damage emotional stability, finances, careers, as well as impact family, friends and colleagues.

“Even one drink can impair judgment and lead to risky choices, such as driving under the influence,” Mr Dunkley said, adding that local data from the Government Forensic Laboratory confirms that alcohol or drugs were present in 75 per cent of all road fatalities between 2009 and 2014.

Mr Dunkley also addressed the fact that powdered alcohol, “Palcohol” is now available — having been approved for sale in some US States — and that it is expected to go on sale as early as this summer.

“I share the concerns of the professionals about the effects that this product will have on underage drinking,” the Premier said, adding that this product is easily concealed and its use is difficult to detect.

Mr Dunkley added that underage drinking remains a concern for the community and that data from the Department for National Drug Control's 2011 National School Survey reported that 55 per cent of youth have tried an alcoholic drink by the age of 12, and some students reported obtaining alcohol from their parents.

“We can no longer view alcohol as an adult problem but a problem that affects us all,” he added. “Today, Bermuda joins the US National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in observing April as Alcohol Awareness Month.

“The 2015 theme is “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction”.

Mr Roban added: “Road safety seems to become a priority only when we have a spate of road accidents or fatalities.

“We must not only think about it we must act; first in the way we conduct ourselves on our roads and in the commitment we make to not put the lives of others or ourselves at risk through driving drunk,” Mr Roban said, adding that history has shown that individual actions and individual responsibility is not enough.

“They simply don't understand that their poor driving and unconscionable decisions have consequences, sometimes fatal, for themselves and others.

He added that CADA's approach, in its push for Road Side Sobriety checkpoints, is appreciated because it is “not just about catching drunk drivers, getting them off the roads and adding dollars to the public purse.

“It's also about raising awareness, creating opportunities to change behaviour and also to create an atmosphere where individuals aren't being profiled or singled out unnecessarily.”

Mr Roban added that mandatory alcohol testing at the scene of all road accidents resulting in injuries is common sense and that the creation of an Alcohol Bureau of Control to regulate and oversee all aspects of alcohol sales, licensing and events would reform the current antiquated system and bring Bermuda into the 21st century.

He added that Social Hosting legislation “would not only modernise our laws, but will also reinforce the value that most of us were taught as children; I am my brother's keeper.”

Chief Inspector Jerome Laws, CADA Executive Director Anthony Santucci, Premier Michael Dunkley, Junior Minister for Community and Cultural Affairs Nandi Outerbridge, Shadow Minister of Public Safety Walter Roban, and Joanne Dean, the Director for National Drug Control, at the CADA press briefing today.

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Published April 01, 2015 at 5:52 pm (Updated April 01, 2015 at 6:00 pm)

Alcohol Awareness Month launched

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