A new ordinance aimed at reducing underage drinking goes into effect on September 1 for the island of Maui. To help educate the community about the ordinance, the Maui Coalition for Drug-Free Youth launched a new website this month with information to help parents stop underage drinking at home.

The ordinance, which was passed through the Maui County Council in February, holds adults liable for illegal underage drinking on their property. According to Coalition Chair and mother Kapua Chang, “For me, the Social Host Ordinance is another layer of accountability in the efforts to drastically minimize underage drinking and the consequences that come of it.”

The Coalition is ramping up education and outreach as summer begins. Summer is a time for graduation parties and other celebrations, which are high-risk settings for youth. Parties create the opportunity for drug or alcohol use, which we see lead to car crashes, assaults, and injuries.  Maui recently lost a 17-year-old Lahainaluna graduate in a tragic car crash in the early morning of May 30, 2021. Maui police say it appears that speed, alcohol, and lack of seatbelts were all factors in the incident. 

If you are the parent of a teen or tween, now is a perfect time to have a conversation about alcohol. Take the time to listen: ask what their friends think and do, as well as what their own experiences and views on drinking alcohol are. Also, let them know your expectations. Consider sharing with them that underage drinking is never safe, and has led to fatal car crashes, sexual assault, fights, drownings, arrests, and other negative consequences.  

Coalition Director and father Rick Collins adds, “Alcohol is often conveyed in our media as a necessary requirement for celebrations and fun when in actuality, it is the third-leading preventable cause of death in our society.  It’s great to see steps being taken to bring public awareness about the sobering consequences of alcohol to our community.”

The Maui Coalition for Drug-Free Youth will continue to engage with youth and adults on the benefits of reducing alcohol consumption, and the risks of underage drinking, in preparation for the implementation of the Social Host Liability ordinance on September 1, 2021. 

“Working with coalition members and partner organizations such as Maui Youth and Family Services, Maui Family Support Services, Maui Economic Opportunity, and others helps spread the word that young people want smart policies and good enforcement to protect themselves, their friends, and family from serious harm,” says Coalition Coordinator Andrea Snow.

Please visit mcdfy.org, and follow the Coalition on Facebook and Instagram for more information.