surgeon general issues national 'Call to Action' on underage drinking
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WASHINGTON -- In its first "Call
to Action" against underage drinking, the U.S. Surgeon General's
Office is appealing to Americans to do more to stop America's 11
million current underage drinkers from using alcohol and to keep
other young people from starting.
Acting Surgeon General Kenneth
Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H., laid out recommendations for government and
school officials, parents, other adults and the young people.
many Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to
adulthood," Moritsugu said. "Research shows that young people who
start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to
have alcohol-related problems later in life. New research also
indicates that alcohol may harm the developing adolescent brain. The
availability of this research provides more reasons than ever before
for parents and other adults to protect the health and safety of our
Although there has been a significant decline in tobacco and
illicit drug use among teens, underage drinking has remained at
consistently high levels. The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and
Health estimates there are 11 million underage drinkers in the
United States. Nearly 7.2 million are considered binge drinkers,
typically meaning they drank more than five drinks on occasion, and
more than 2 million are classified as heavy drinkers.
Developed in collaboration with the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, the "Call to Action" identifies six goals:
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Engage parents, schools,
communities, all levels of government, all social systems that
interface with youth, and youth themselves in a coordinated
national effort to prevent and reduce underage drinking and its
understanding of underage alcohol consumption in the context of
human development and maturation, taking into account individual
adolescent characteristics as well as environmental, ethnic,
cultural and gender differences.
research on adolescent alcohol use and its relationship to
Work to improve
public health surveillance on underage drinking and on
population-based risk factors for this behavior.
Work to ensure that
policies at all levels are consistent with the national goal of
preventing and reducing underage alcohol consumption.
"Alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by America's
youth," Moritsugu said. "This 'Call to Action' is attempting to
change the culture and attitudes toward drinking in America. We can
no longer ignore what alcohol is doing to our children."
Copies of "The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and
Reduce Underage Drinking" and other related materials are available
www.surgeongeneral.gov or by calling the National Clearinghouse
for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.
Department of Health and Human Services news release]