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SAMHSA News - March/April, Volume 14, Number 2

Town Hall Meetings Convene on Underage Drinking

More than 1,200 communities will hold a series of town hall meetings, on or around March 28—just before April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month—to focus national attention on underage drinking and hear about successful strategies for prevention. SAMHSA is playing a key role in this effort.

To assist local communities with preparation, SAMHSA offers a planning kit that includes templates for the production of customized posters and flyers, press releases for the media, and invitation letters for potential panelists.

The meetings continue the momentum of the recent national conference in Washington, DC, "Preventing Underage Alcohol Use: A National Meeting of the States." The conference was sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, which is chaired by SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. (See SAMHSA News, November/December 2005.)

Town hall meetings are intended to bring together communities in a public forum to discuss issues of concern related to underage use of alcohol, which is the most widely used substance of abuse among America's youth.

The town hall meetings are strategically timed to help energize communities about Reach Out Now teach-in events (see Reach Out Now Offers Materials to Schools). Communities holding town hall events are encouraged to use these teach-in materials in their schools.

In January, regional trainings to prepare for the town hall meetings were held in Boston, MA, and Reno, NV. The trainings focused on two objectives:

  • Help local community coalitions convene town hall meetings focused on underage drinking prevention.

  • Promote local use of the Start Talking Before They Start Drinking public service announcements developed in collaboration with the Ad Council.

Regional trainings are highlighted in two Web casts to help local community coalitions get involved in these efforts.

Planned activities include the governors and first ladies of many states, including the following:

  • In Arizona, a number of coalitions and organizations are planning 25 town hall meetings, with teach-ins to follow.

  • In Florida, 43 of 67 counties will participate in town hall meetings, with an event in Tampa scheduled to be broadcast live on all Florida PBS stations and taped by other local affiliates. The state's first lady will attend the Tampa meeting along with Federal leaders and state agency heads.

  • In Maine, the Attorney General is holding town hall-style meetings in every county in the state. The meetings, held in 24 communities, are the first step in developing a regional plan of action and will highlight current state and local efforts.

  • In North Carolina, the state's first lady will speak at a town hall meeting in Chapel Hill on March 28. The event is hosted by a community coalition, the Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill, and the town of Carrboro. Drug Free Community grantees will take part.

  • In Ohio, town hall meetings will take place in various communities on March 28. Plans call for a central meeting to be held in Cleveland.

  • In Washington, DC, the mayor has planned a town hall-style meeting devoted to underage drinking for March 28.

  • In Wyoming, on April 6, the state's first lady will host a live call-in broadcast on Wyoming Public Television.

Other states involved in town hall meetings include California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky.

For additional information, or to view the training Web casts, visit

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