Update: Action Needed!
National Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking - H.R. 5137

On September 7, 2000, Congressman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the National Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking Act of 2000. This bipartisan legislation would authorize the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a national media campaign directed at preventing and reducing underage alcohol consumption.

The need for a separate and "free-standing" campaign is evident (see the Alcohol Policies Project online archives at http://www.cspinet.org/booze/arch.htm for background information). Last year, Congresswoman Roybal-Allard and Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) proposed an amendment to the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill to add underage-drinking prevention messages to the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) youth anti-drug media campaign. Opponents of the measure, including General Barry McCaffrey, contended that the addition of alcohol to the campaign would dilute the anti-drug message.

What You Can Do

  • Contact your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to co-sponsor and support H.R. 5137. You may reach your Representative utilizing the House of Representatives' "Write Your Representative" page at www.house.gov/writerep/. Members may also be reached by calling the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

  • Write or call Representatives listed as co-sponsors to thank them and urge "active" involvement in H.R. 5137.

  • Encourage others, including educators, law enforcement, physicians, youth groups, religious organizations, etc., to contact their Representatives.

Co-Sponsors of H.R. 5137

Democrats

Republicans

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Representative Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Representative Lois Capps (D-CA)
Representative Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY)
Representative Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD)
Representative Nita M. Lowey (D-NY)
Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA)
Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA)

Representative John L. Mica (R-FL)
Representative Thomas M. Davis (R-VA)
Representative Constance A. Morella (R-MD)
Representative Rob Portman (R-OH)
Representative Jim Ramstad (R-MN)
Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA)

Background

Modeled on ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking will use television, print, radio and Internet advertisements to educate children, adolescents and their parents about the dangers of underage drinking. The bill defines underage drinking as:

"Any consumption of alcoholic beverages by individuals who have not attained the age at which (in the State involved) it is legal to purchase such beverages."

*The purchase of alcohol by persons under the age of 21 is currently illegal in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

About the Bill

H.R. 5137 would amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for a national media campaign to reduce and prevent underage drinking in the United States. Specifically the legislation would:

  • Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop, implement, and conduct a national media campaign;

  • Require the Office of Public Health and Science, in conjunction with the Surgeon General, to conduct the campaign with messages based on scientific research;

  • Create a national media campaign to supplement, not supplant, existing efforts by federal, state, local, private and nonprofit entities to reduce and prevent underage drinking;

  • Provide $1 million for the development of a comprehensive strategy planning document, and appropriate sufficient funds for the purchase of media time, testing and evaluation of advertising, and evaluation of the effectiveness of the media campaign; and

  • Require as a condition of each purchase of media time or space that the seller of the time provide non-federal contributions to the national media campaign equal to 50 percent of the purchase price, which may be contributions of funds or in the form of public service announcements specifically directed to reducing and preventing underage drinking.

Talking Points

  • Alcohol consumption is a factor in motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and drowning -- the leading causes of death among youth. (Source: Healthy People 2010 : Understanding and Improving Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000).

  • Alcohol is the drug of choice among adolescents (Source: Cigarettes, Alcohol, Marijuana: Gateways to Illicit Drug Use. Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 1994).

  • Underage drinking costs Americans nearly $53 billion per year (Source: Levy, Stewart & Wilbur. Costs of Underage Drinking. Pacific Institute, 1999. Written for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).

  • Underage drinking costs Americans more than $29 billion in violent crimes, $19 billion in traffic crashes, and $1.5 billion in suicide attempts (Source: Levy, Stewart & Wilbur. Costs of Underage Drinking. Pacific Institute, 1999. Written for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).

  • If the cost of underage drinking were shared equally by each congressional district, the amount would total more than $120 million per district (Source: Levy, Stewart & Wilbur. Costs of Underage Drinking. Pacific Institute, 1999. Written for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention).

  • Young people who began drinking before age 15 were four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who began drinking at age 21 (Source: Grant & Dawson. Age at Onset of Alcohol Use and its Association with DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, Volume 9, pages 103-110, 1997).

  • The average age of first alcohol use in the United States is 13.1 (Source: National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Main Findings 1996. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998).

  • In 1998, about 10.4 million current drinkers were between the age of 12-20 years old. Of these, 5.1 million were binge drinkers, including 2.3 million heavy drinkers* (Source: Summary of Findings from the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).

  • 52% of 12th grade students, 38.8% of tenth grade students and 23% of 8th grade students, reported the use of alcohol in the past 30 days (Source: Johnston, O'Malley & Bachman. National Survey Results on Drug Use from the Monitoring the Future Study. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999).

  • In 1995, the estimated cost of alcohol abuse to the American economy was more than $166 billion (Source: Harwood, Fountain & Livermore. The Economic Costs of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the United States, 1992, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998).

*The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse defines current use as at least one drink in the past month, binge use as five or more drinks on the same occasion at least once in the past month, and heavy use as five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days in the past month.

September 14, 2000