September 19, 2019

Coalitions in Action — Page Alliance for Community Action Program Sees Success with Sticker Shock Campaign

“Page Alliance for Community Action Program (PACA) serves Page County, Virginia,” said the coalition’s Director Megan Gordon. “We are made up of four towns: Shenandoah, Stanley, Luray and Rileyville. We’re a rural community nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, most known for the Luray Caverns, scenic views and abundance of cabins. We have a population of around 24,000 people, and our coalition was formed in 2006.” 

“Our coalition is facing many of the same issues that other rural communities face,” said Gordon. “We are working every day to reduce underage drinking. Youth tobacco use in the form of smokeless tobacco and vaping are also both target areas for our coalition, and we continue to focus on opioid use prevention strategies.”  

“We are most proud of our sticker shock campaigns led by the coalition’s youth in conjunction with compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco and party patrols led by our sheriff’s department,” said Gordon. “We determined a need to decrease retail availability of tobacco products along with social availability of alcohol to youth. Through surveys and focus groups youth reported alcohol was being provided by older friends, siblings and other family members and tobacco products were easy to purchase. The sticker shock campaign is used to raise awareness for our youth, community and retailers that purchasing alcohol for minors is illegal and can result in fines and/or jail time. PACA’s youth, along with an adult supervisor, visit participating retailers to place stickers on multipack containers of alcohol. Prior to the youth visiting the stores, an officer from the sheriff’s department and the coalition director visited the stores to talk to them about the campaign and the importance of checking IDs. The sticker shock campaigns are run during times of the year when youth alcohol consumption may be higher, including homecoming, prom, graduation, back to school and the start of summer. During that time the sheriff’s office also conducts increased party patrols to ensure social hosting isn’t occurring. Compliance checks for tobacco and alcohol are conducted quarterly to ensure retailers are not selling those products to youth.”  

“We have seen an increase in the number of retailers passing compliance checks, due in large part to the continued education and presence in their stores,” said Gordon. “Our most recent check for tobacco resulted in a 100% pass rate and our most recent check for alcohol resulted in a 93% pass rate. Youth reporting ease of availability of both tobacco and alcohol products has decreased significantly since the start of the campaigns.” 

“It is important to continue to have conversations with retailers,” said Gordon. “Their staff turnover rate is high and ownership of the establishments changes frequently. We have found that we made significant improvement when we increased the frequency of our campaigns. It is also important to involve your youth as much as possible in all aspects of the campaigns.” 

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