Today, Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) joined Louisiana State Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Donna Tate, representatives from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and other safety officials at the Louisiana State Capitol for a "State Orange Ribbon Rally" to announce officials’ commitment to the prevention of underage drinking.

LDH Secretary Bruce Greenstein said, “We have a responsibility as a Department and as parents in protecting our children from the dangers of underage drinking. Study after study demonstrates that when kids begin drinking at an early age, they’re more prone to addiction and diseases that severely hinder their quality of life. Our number one priority is providing Louisiana children with quality health – and that means working with everyone from law enforcement officials to educators to parents in keeping our children alcohol free.” 

"Alcohol is too readily available and accessible to Louisiana youth.  One of the most effective ways to reduce underage drinking is to reduce or eliminate the accessibility and availability of alcohol to youth through policy change.  The Orange Ribbon Rally and month-long Orange Ribbon Campaign are focused on educating the general public and mobilizing Louisiana youth to prevent underage drinking," said Donna Tate, Louisiana State Executive Director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

According to MADD, underage drinking has a tremendous impact on the health and safety of consumers, including:
•    Children who are drinking alcohol by 7th grade are more likely to report academic problems, substance use, and delinquent behavior in both middle school and high school;
•    Teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined; and
•    Louisiana has consistently been above the United States average for fatal vehicle crashes involving alcohol.

“Unfortunately, teens are overrepresented in traffic crashes and the use of alcohol is often a contributing factor.  Our teens continue to have alcohol accessible to them and the bad decision to illegally consume alcohol is turning into tragic results when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Louisiana Highway Commission.

April has been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month, with the last week nationally recognized as Orange Ribbon Week. A group of Indiana youth started the Orange Ribbon campaign in January of 2001 to increase the public’s awareness of underage drinking and the negative effects it has on the community.

For more information on Louisiana’s Orange Ribbon activities and a guide for community efforts to prevent underage drinking, visit www.gov.state.la.us/orangeribbon.