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PLEASE CO-SPONSOR THE
“STOP” UNDERAGE DRINKING ACT (S. 2718)
October 4, 2004
As members of an alliance of organizations dedicated to establishing an effective national strategy for preventing and reducing underage drinking, we strongly urge you to co-sponsor the bi-partisan, bi-cameral 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. The most tragic consequences of underage drinking are all too familiar:
• 19 year-old Colorado State University sophomore Samantha Spady, found dead in a fraternity house with a blood alcohol level of more than 5 times the legal limit to drive (Colorado; September, 2004)
• 17 year-old Eddie Cross, found dead in a river after an underage drinking party (New Hampshire; August, 2004).
• High School senior Signey Johnson died after falling down the stairs while under the influence of alcohol (Illinois; April 2004).
• Frankie Nicolai III and Justin Benoist, both 11-year-old Native Americans, found dead of hypothermia and acute alcohol poisoning in a snowy field after guzzling huge amounts of vodka (Montana; March, 2004).
Youth who begin drinking before the age of 21 are more likely to be involved in a fight, commit violent crimes, fail at school, use other drugs, experience verbal, physical, or sexual violence, drink and drive, and become alcohol dependent than those who wait to drink legally.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), prevention efforts are beginning to pay off in declining rates of teen smoking and street drug use. However, in the absence of comparable efforts to combat underage drinking, alcohol use and binge drinking among teens continue at alarmingly high rates. DHHS data for 2003 show that about 10.9 million persons aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month (about 30 percent of this age group). Nearly 7.2 million (19.2 percent) were binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.1 percent) were heavy drinkers.
It’s time for the nation to demonstrate continuous, strong determination to reject underage drinking. The STOP Act represents a long-overdue first step in the right direction. It provides a total of $19 million in new funding to improve federal coordination and leadership on underage drinking; authorize an adult-focused national media campaign to prevent underage drinking; provide additional resources to communities to strengthen local underage drinking prevention activities; and fund critical new research on underage drinking to better understand the causes and solutions.
Please co-sponsor this important legislation, and help parents and communities reduce the devastating harms of underage drinking and save young lives.
American Academy of Pediatrics
American College of Preventive Medicine
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
Drawing the Line on Underage Alcohol Use, Family Support Center
General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church
Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol-Free
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
National Families in Action
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
National Association of Children of Alcoholics
Society for Adolescent Medicine
Virginia College Parents, Inc
Working Together at the Federal Level to Reduce Underage
Drinking and its Harms.
Posted 10 December 2004