Underage drinking prevention effort in Utah falls short
A multimillion-dollar underage drinking prevention campaign isn't working as expected, according to an audit released this week by the Office of the State Auditor.
Context: Parents Empowered, which was established in 2005, sought to have every Utah child reach the age of 21 before drinking alcohol.
- The campaign provided resources to teach parents how to talk to their children about the tolls and health impacts of underage drinking.
- It has also featured ads to curb underage drinking among teens that mirror anti-drug commercials seen in the 1980s.
By the numbers: Between 2005 and 2019, the drinking rate among children in Utah decreased by about 4%, according to the state's analysis of CDC data.
- That's a slower decline when compared with the 14% decrease seen on a national level during that time period.
- Flashback: Before 2005, Utah's underage drinking rates were decreasing faster than the national rate.
What they said: "The rate of underage drinking has declined in Utah, but nationwide, those rates … also declined," said Bertha Lui, a state financial audit director.
- She presented her findings at a Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services meeting Tuesday, and said they were "unable to conclude the campaign drove the change in Utah."
Show me the money: The state-funded effort cost around $2.5 million a year since 2018.
- Of note: During FY 2006, it cost the state $1.9 million.
- While the increase is sizeable, DABS officials said the budget has kept up with inflation.
Yes, but: The state auditor's office found that more spending did not translate to a greater reduction in underage drinking.
What's next: Tiffany Clason, executive director of the DABS, said the group will continue to search for better metrics to evaluate the efficacy of the campaign.
More Salt Lake City stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.