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Parents should be aware of the dangers to their children of excessive holiday drinking, especially because this year will bring many millennium celebrations where alcohol will be a significant part of the festivities, Erie County's health commissioner, Dr. Arnold N. Lubin, said Tuesday.

Lubin warned parents that students -- especially those of college age at home on break -- normally increase their drinking during the holidays.

That's expected to be even more of a factor this year, with many millennium New Year's Eve parties planned, Lubin said.

"The holiday season should be one filled with joy and celebration, and by being open and communicative with your children, everyone should have a happy holiday and a healthy new year," Lubin said.

Parents should talk to their children about holiday drinking, Lubin said, with special emphasis on alcohol abstinence as a good choice for students to make. The risks of excessive drinking and the legal use of alcohol should also be discussed, he said.

"Parents need to make their feelings known, since silence may be considered a tacit approval of drinking or just a lack of concern," he said.

Information about children and alcohol is available through the Erie County Health Department, at 858-7690, or the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse at 839-1157.

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