Surgeon General's Call to Action on Underage Drinking Welcomed
Statement of CSPI Alcohol Policies Project's Manager of Federal Relations Kimberly Miller
March 7, 2007
The U.S. Surgeon Generalís long-awaited Call to Action on underage drinking amplifies the National Academiesí Institute of Medicineís report of more than three years ago urging a national strategy to address the nationís worst youth drug problem. We hope that this declaration from the nationís top physician will provide a further wake-up call on the seriousness of the underage drinking problem and help inspire a sustained public effort to reduce it.
As a first priority, this enhanced federal commitment should have at its centerpiece a hard-hitting, independent media campaign. Such a campaign is needed to reach parents and kids with the facts about underage drinking and balance the ocean of alcohol promotion that encourages it.
However, the report omits one of the most effective policies to deter underage drinkingótax increases on alcoholic beverages. And, since 20 percent of drinkers account for about 80 percent of the alcohol consumed, it should come as no surprise that the industry loudly objects to policies that actually reduce heavy consumption.
The public health community stands ready to work with state and federal policy makers to implement the Call to Action and develop policies to carry out its goals.