NAS Report: Sample Letter to the Editor

NAS Report Action Resources


Click on a version:


Version 1

(proactive, media campaign focus)

Version 2

(responsive to other coverage, tax focus)



Version 1.  (proactive, media campaign focus)




Dear Editor,


A recent National Academy of Sciences report to Congress on underage drinking sends a long overdue wake up call to parents, communities, legislators, and youth on the nation's costliest -- and most neglected -- youth drug problem.


Approximately 11 million American youth under the age of 21 drink alcohol, nearly half of them drink heavily (downing five or more per occasion).  An estimated 3 million teenagers are alcohol dependent, and several million more have a serious drinking problem.  Kids who start 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 develop an alcohol problem than those who wait to drink legally.


A massive taxpayer-funded youth anti-drug media campaign sounds the alarm on illicit drugs and widespread and powerful anti-smoking messages are beginning to pay off in declining rates of teen smoking.  Although alcohol kills six times more youth than all other drugs combined and countless more the cigarettes, we are oddly silent on underage drinking.  Due to the absence of comparable media efforts, youth alcohol use continues at alarmingly high rates.


It is time for Congress to act on the report's recommendation to establish a national media campaign to discourage underage drinking.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]



Version 2.  (responsive to other coverage, tax focus)




Dear Editor,


Of the many worthwhile recommendations in last week's National Academy of Science's report on what to do about underage drinking [Date, "article headline"], its proposal to raise alcohol excise taxes -- especially beer taxes -- is the one that might bring the most assured and immediate benefits.


That suggestion has strong scientific support and is long overdue.  Such increases would scarcely be felt by most consumers, and heavy drinkers would rightly pay more since their drinking imposes the most costs on society.


Despite a 1991 increase in federal beer taxes, today's levy of about five cents per drink is less than one-quarter of what it would be had the rate kept up with inflation since 1951, the year of the previous hike.  This tax stagnation has contributed to steady reductions in the relative price of beer, strong demand for beer among underage consumers, and massive erosion in the value of revenues to the Treasury.


Astonishingly, the beer lobby continues to press Congress to return the tax rate to its 1951 level.  Lawmakers should "just say no" to big beer.  Raising beer taxes would reduce underage drinking and its harms and raise millions for under-funded prevention and treatment programs.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]


NAS Report Call to Action

Action Alerts


Project Description

Project Issues

Action Alerts

Fact Sheets

Press Releases

Washington Report

News & Resources




CPAP Homepage


Ask Alcohol Policies

Alcohol Policies Archives
















































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: