Report Provides Roadmap on Underage Drinking
Statement of CSPI Alcohol Policies Project Director George A. Hacker
September 9, 2003
The forthcoming report from the National Academy of Sciences signals a historic first step toward ending decades of complacency about one of the most damaging and widespread public health and safety threats facing society.
Federal anti-drug strategy virtually ignores underage drinking and leaves the booze industry with a near monopoly as the primary educator of young people about alcohol. We hope Congress takes the Academy’s recommendations to heart and moves forward with a massive, hard-hitting media campaign that begins educating America’s kids and families about the dangers of underage drinking.
We also urge Members of Congress and state legislators to implement the NAS’ recommendations on alcohol taxes. Higher taxes on alcohol help reduce underage drinking and save young lives and could fund important education and treatment programs. Those Members of Congress who have cosponsored measures to reduce such taxes should be embarrassed that they are sacrificing the health of America’s kids in order to pad the bottom line of a politically connected industry.
Naturally, the alcoholic-beverage industry is trashing the Academy’s report. Why wouldn’t they? Some 20 percent of the alcohol consumed in this country is downed by underage drinkers. For the industry, underage drinking is both a profit center and a breeding ground for its best customers— the addicts of tomorrow.