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Editor's Note: This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Council (CHIC). Health Councils were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an ongoing awareness campaign addressing the various areas that can potentially affect a person's health. September has been devoted to solutions to underage drinking.

Planning to host an underage drinking party?

Better think again.

Students in San Juan County most often drink alcohol at someone else's home, according to the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey that is conducted in our middle and high schools every other year.

It is a well-known fact that underage drinking house parties occur on a regular basis. Ask high school or even middle school students, counselors, school administrators, teachers, school resource officers and other law enforcement officers, and they will tell you that parties are taking place at people's homes most weekends.

These parties sometimes result in: alcohol poisoning, drinking and driving, sexual assault, fighting, property damage, traffic crashes and neighborhood disturbances, to name a few of the problems. These consequences may have long term impact on our young people's lives when their lives are just getting started.

San Juan County Partnership convened a group of concerned people to look at some solutions to this problem in Farmington. A partial solution is to hold adults accountable for hosting underage drinking parties. In late July, the Farmington City Council passed a social host ordinance.

The ordinance states that adults who host underage drinking parties or events will be cited. They will no longer be able to provide a location for underage drinking. The citation is a misdemeanor that, upon conviction, carries a fine that increases with repeat offenses, and could ultimately involve jail time.

Congratulations to the city counselors for passing this ordinance on behalf of our youth. This is a proactive stance that will help our young people with their decision-making processes and reduce the sometimes terrible consequences of underage parties. It is time for us to hold adults responsible.

For more information, contact San Juan County Partnership, 505-566-5866, office@sjcpartnership.org

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