Action Alert: Support the STOP Underage Drinking Act (H.R.4888/S. 2718)

 

 

ACTION ALERT – TIME SENSITIVE!

Support the STOP Underage Drinking Act (H.R.4888/S. 2718)

 

Congress is back in session for only a few more weeks!  If you already contacted your legislators, but have not heard back from them, please follow up with them by phone.  If you have not yet done so, please contact your Senators and Representative and urge them to co-sponsor the bi-partisan, bi-cameral “Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act,” or “STOP Underage Drinking Act” (H.R. 4888 in the House and S. 2718 in the Senate).

 

The public health, safety, consumer protection, education, child and family welfare, and faith communities have fought for years to elevate underage drinking on the national public policy agenda.  This bill represents an important first step in developing an effective national response to the devastating public health and safety problem of underage drinking.

 

 

Background:

 

On Wednesday, July 21, Senators DeWine (R-OH) and Dodd (D-CT) and Representatives Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Wolf (R-VA), Wamp (R-TN), DeLauro (D-CT), and Osborne (R-NE) introduced legislation to implement some of the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s September 2003 report outlining an evidence-based national strategy to prevent and reduce underage drinking.

 

 

What the “STOP Underage Drinking Act” Does:

 

The STOP Underage Drinking Act includes four major areas of policy development:

1)  Establishes Federal Coordination and Reporting ($2 million)

  • Creates an Interagency Coordinating Committee to coordinate the efforts and expertise, chaired by Secretary of HHS

  • Mandates annual report to Congress on their efforts to combat underage drinking

  • Mandates an annual “report card” to track efforts in the States

2)  Authorizes National Media Campaign against Underage Drinking ($1 million)

  • Authorizes a national media campaign directed at adults

  • Continues Ad Council efforts begun in FY 2004 – yields an estimated $28 million per year in free media

3)  Provides Additional Resources to Prevent Underage Drinking ($10 million)

  • Provides alcohol-specific enhancement grants through the Drug Free Communities program

  • Creates a new program providing competitive grants to states, non-profit entities, and institutions of higher education to create state-wide coalitions to prevent underage drinking and alcohol abuse by college and university students

4)  Expands Research, Captures New Surveillance Data on Underage Drinking ($6 million)

  • Increases federal research and data collection on underage drinking, including: reporting on the types and brands of alcohol that underage youth consume; and the impact of underage drinking upon adolescent brain development.

 

 

Take Action:

 

Call, fax, or e-mail your Senators and Representative today and urge him/her to co-sponsor S. 2718 (Senate) and companion bill H.R. 4888 (House).

 

 


Here's how to do it


 

Phone:

1)  Call your U.S. Representative’s Washington office.  (If you don’t have the number, call 202-224-3121 and the Capitol Switchboard will connect you).

2)  Ask to speak with the staff member who handles alcohol and/or health issues.

3)  Whether you speak with a staffer or leave a message on his/her voice mail, your message is the same.  Identify yourself as a constituent and ask that the Senator or Representative co-sponsor S. 2718 (Senate) and companion bill H.R. 4888 (House).  Explain (briefly!) why it is important – see talking points and sample message, below).

 

Please also consider referring to state fact sheets on the costs of underage drinking in each state.

 

Thank them for their consideration, and tell them you will follow up with them in a week or so to ask about their decision on whether to co-sponsor.

4)  Follow up with staff a week or so later.  Ask if they have had a chance to look at the bill and discuss it with their boss, and when you may expect a decision.

 

If they decide NOT to co-sponsor, tell them you would like to know the reasons for their decision.  This information will be very helpful for legislative advocacy coordination purposes -- we would appreciate hearing any feedback you receive from your legislators (please e-mail Kim Hennemeyer).

 

 

E-mail or Fax:

 

Some Members have e-mail addresses, while others prefer that you send your comments via their web site.  Fax numbers are generally made public. To look up your Representative’s contact info, click here.

 

Using the same steps as outlined above, please follow your fax or e-mail with a phone call about a week later, to ask about their decision on your request.

 

 

Sample message:

 

As a constituent of yours, I strongly urge Senator/Representative [Smith] to co-sponsor the bi-partisan STOP Underage Drinking Prevention Act, recently introduced by Senators DeWine and Dodd (S.2718) and by Representatives Roybal-Allard, Wolf, DeLauro, Wamp, and Osborne (H.R 4888).

 

Alcohol plays a substantial role in the top three causes of teen death (traffic crashes, murder, and suicide) and costs the nation an estimated $53 billion per year.  Despite its massive toll in dollars and lives, and while illicit drugs and tobacco youth prevention receive considerable attention and support, underage drinking prevention has consistently been neglected.

 

The bill would authorize an adult-oriented media campaign aimed at stopping underage drinking.  This is important because most underage drinkers get alcohol from adults and most adults underestimate the problem of underage drinking.  It would create a coordinated leadership role for the federal government through an interagency coordinating committee.  This committee would develop national strategies to prevent underage drinking and focus on a more efficient way of targeting federal prevention resources.  The bill also creates annual measures of effectiveness for underage drinking prevention efforts and makes funds available to communities to combat youth alcohol use.

 

Given that underage drinking costs this nation some $58 billion each year, we can surely afford to pass legislation that would make our efforts to combat underage drinking more effective, efficient, and accountable.  Please support this modest bill and work for even tougher measures to address this serious youth health and safety issue.  I appreciate your consideration and will follow up with you to inquire about your decision.

September 22, 2004

Related Links:

Read the bill

Bill Summary

CSPI Talking Points 

CSPI Fact Sheets on Youth and Alcohol

State Fact Sheets on the Cost of Underage Drinking

 

Email this link

 

For more information, please contact:

Kim Hennemeyer, Manager of Federal Relations

 

 

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Center for Science in the Public Interest

Alcohol Policies Project

1220 L St. NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC  20005

Phone: 202-332-9110 * Fax: 202-265-4954 * Web: www.cspinet.org/booze