Citing staggering statistics on the number of young people who try alcohol, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and MADD-RI Execute Director Gabrielle Abbate today called on local Urban Outfitters stores to pull provocative t-shirts glorifying underage drinking from shelves.
The clothing chain Urban Outfitters, which has a location on Thayer Street in Providence, is promoting a new-line of t-shirts emblazoned with slogans including, "I Vote For Vodka" and "I Drink You're Cute," which make light of the serious and dangerous situation of underage drinking. Urban Outfitters' target demographics are young adults, with its largest demographic of customers between the ages of 18 and 24 and the second largest under 18 years of age.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 39% of current 8th graders, 58% of 10th graders, 72% of 12th graders, and 85% of college students have tried alcohol. Underage drinking is a leading contributor to death from injuries, which are the main cause of death for people under age 21. Each year, approximately 5,000 persons under the age of 21 die from causes related to underage drinking. These deaths include about 1,600 homicides and 300 suicides.
Alcohol also plays a significant role in risky sexual behavior and increases the risk of physical and sexual assault. Among college students under age 21, 50,000 experience alcohol-related date rape, and 43,000 are injured by another student who has been drinking.
"Underage alcohol use remains a pervasive and persistent problem with serious health and safety consequences," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "Deeply embedded in American culture, underage drinking is still viewed by many as a rite of passage into adulthood. While it may not be illegal for the retail giant to sell these t-shirts, it definitely sends a bad message and can be a dangerous influence on young adults. I hope Urban Outfitters will act responsibly and remove the t-shirts from the shelves."
"Parents can positively influence the behavior of their children in order to keep them safe and alive. But it's not easy. The increased amount of irresponsible marketing practices targeting their children daily adds to the overloaded challenges they face in protecting their families. Parents need to remain vigilant to irresponsible marketing practices and the threats these practices place on the health of their loved ones," added Gabrielle Abbate, Executive Director of MADD-RI. "If companies, like Urban Outfitters, want to help parents keep their children safe, as well as, serve as good community and family-safe stewards, they could create t-shirts with clever slogans without alcohol use messages. Parents, schools, and communities could use their help."