AMERICAN SAMOA PROPOSAL WOULD BAN DRINKING IN PUBLIC PLACES

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (July 17, 2000 –PIDP/CPIS)---Drinking alcohol in public places, such as public parks, could be outlawed by the end of this year, if a proposed law now before the Legislature is endorsed by lawmakers.

According to Governor Tauese Sunia, the proposed "Open Container" law prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. Similar laws are in place in other U.S. cities including Honolulu.

He said of major concern are the public places close to schools. The most popular public park for such activities is Lions Park in Nu’uuli, which is frequented by teenagers. The park is across the street from Nu’uuli Poly-Tech High School.

Tauese said it’s time to protect "our children" from alcohol consumption or exposure to it.

"According to the District Court of American Samoa, our DUI and alcohol-influenced assault rates are doubling annually," the Governor said. "Juveniles, aged 15 to 16, are routinely being arrested for DUI offenses with double to triple the level of legal intoxication," the Governor continued. "These high levels reveal a tolerance to alcohol built up over several months or years of consumption.

"Through early intervention into alcohol abuse matters we can reduce levels of violent crimes induced by substance abuse, and preserve family safety, and the overall well-being of our community," he reflected.

Some lawmakers believe that this proposal could also curb the "filthy habit" of many drinkers who break beer bottles on park grounds, making them unsafe for others to use, especially children.

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