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East Islip group fights alcohol sales to minors

A group of East Islip parents and kids

A group of East Islip parents and kids has started visiting businesses that sell alcohol in East Islip, Great River and Islip Terrace, hoping each will eventually sign a pledge not to sell to minors. Credit: AP

A group of East Islip parents and kids has started visiting businesses that sell alcohol in East Islip, Great River and Islip Terrace, hoping each will eventually sign a pledge not to sell to minors.

The East Islip Drug and Alcohol Coalition began the effort June 29 in Legis. Tom Cilmi’s office along with a group of 10 teens who had been trained to spot advertising targeted to their age group.

Of the 53 area businesses with state liquor licenses, chairwoman Carol Coffin said, they visited five and secured pledges from two that day. Prevention Resource Center director Pamela Mizzi said employees, such as clerks at convenience stores or gas stations, usually won’t give pledges in the absence of a manager or owner.

“It really opened their eyes for the kids to realize how much marketing there is that’s directed at them for things they’re not supposed to be buying,” Coffin said. “What they mostly noticed is product placement -- the beer ads are right next to Gatorade ads.”

Karps Liquors in East Islip made the pledge. Wayne Johnson, a partner in the business, said the most important function of a liquor store is to sell responsibly. “We’re the first line of defense and hold the biggest responsibility in keeping liquor, wine and alcohol out of children’s hands.”

Coffin, an East Islip parent, said the goal is to have each business that sells alcohol sign the pledge by the end of summer. She said she doesn’t think underage drinking in her district is worse than others, but said that kids in general are being exposed to alcohol and drugs at younger ages.

“When I was a kid, no one was drinking in school,” Coffin said. “Something got missed somewhere.”