A campaign launched this week by Suffolk County aims to...

A campaign launched this week by Suffolk County aims to get the word out about its social host law prohibiting the serving of alcohol or drugs to minors in their homes. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Suffolk has launched a campaign to increase awareness of the county’s social host law, which punishes adults who provide alcohol or drugs to minors in their home.

The “Just Call” initiative began Monday — the start of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week — with a social media campaign and will continue though prom and graduation season, officials said.

“As we approach warmer weather and party season, it is important to acknowledge underage drinking as a serious concern,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “We all need to take personal responsibility and I can’t reinforce enough that hosts must comply with Suffolk County’s social host law.” 

The law, in place since 2007, imposes penalties of up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines to anyone 18 or older who knowingly allows underage drinking or the use of narcotics, from marijuana to heroin, to take place in their home or fails to take corrective action after learning that it is taking place. 

“The consequences of underage drinking can be severe,” said Dr. Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County’s health commissioner. “This campaign reminds us of the social host law but more importantly serves to encourage Suffolk county residents to keep our youth safe. The potential consequence of underage drinking is far greater than any fine.” 

Suffolk County police and the district attorney's office could not immediately provide data on how many residents have been charged, fined or jailed for violating the social host law. 

Nassau County has a similar social host law, which in 2018 was expanded to prohibit adults from knowingly permitting anyone under the age of 18 to take opioids such as oxycodone, as well as marijuana, heroin, cocaine and anabolic steroids.

Local social service agencies, partnering with the county, will provide pre-prom workshops and distribute palm cards and stickers with the police department’s Cancel the Kegs hotline number at 631-852-5347. The state’s underage drinking tip line is 866-863-3721. 

A survey by the National Institutes of Health found that Americans 26 and older who began drinking before age 15 were nearly six times as likely to report having alcohol use disorder than those who waited until age 21 or later to begin drinking. 

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