DOVER, N.H. (AP) – For the last eight years, a New Hampshire youth group has put stickers on alcohol products in local supermarkets to discourage underage drinking.

But on Tuesday, about 60 members of Youth 2 Youth, an after-school drug prevention program coordinated by the Dover police department, were in for a surprise.

The group said three employees of a beer distributor unloading merchandise at a Shaw’s Supermarket in Dover attempted to stop them from putting stickers on Anheuser-Busch products. They said the employees ripped the stickers off and followed them to a Hannaford Supermarket to rip off more stickers.

“One of our staff members said that we’re just putting on stickers,” said Connor McCann, 11, of Dover. “They don’t say anything negative.”

“I thought it was a little immature,” he continued. “We took a lot of time to put those stickers on.”

The group of sixth through 12th-graders put hundreds of stickers on beer and other alcohol products from four Dover grocery stores with the stores’ permission. The stickers warned parents that most children take their first drinks of beer from their own home or the home of a friend.

“Your kid’s next drink might be right next to the milk,” the white and yellow stickers say.

“What you had was an adult trying to intimidate them,” said Dana Mitchell, retired Dover police captain and prevention coordinator of the youth program.

“We tried to explain to them that we’re just trying to make parents more aware that most kids get their first drink from the refrigerator,” said Merritt McLaughlin, 15, of Dover, at a rally sponsored by the youth group Wednesday.

Group members held up signs reading, ‘Is Your Liquor Locked Up?’ and ‘Monitor Your Alcohol’ in for passing cars and television crews in downtown Dover.

As the cameras rolled, they chanted slogans like, “Hey Bud, what’s your fear? Do you want kids drinking beer?”

Tyler Kelly, a spokesman for New Hampshire Distributors, said Wednesday the company is opposed to the sticker program.

“(The employees) reacted emotionally and they understand that, so the conversation has taken place,” Kelly said.

He added the distributor has a national program that provides stickers, posters and signs to retailers “reminding parents that they have the power to prevent underage drinking.”

But Mitchell said he’s never seen anything from the company specifically addressing children obtaining alcohol from their own refrigerators.

He has, however, received more than one phone call from the distributor over the years discouraging the campaign.

“Their point seemed to be it’s my property and you’re defacing it,” Mitchell said. But “the stores say to us we own the beer and you can sticker it.”

The supermarket stickers were the beginning of a yearlong campaign for the group to raise awareness on underage drinking. It was the result of a local survey that found many students were getting alcohol from their homes or friends’ homes .

The group plans to talk to PTA groups, post a video on and run cable television and radio ads.

Associated Press Writer David Tirrell-Wysocki contributed to this story.

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AP-ES-08-13-08 1731EDT

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