Underage Drinking: A Call to Action
Surgeon General Launches National Effort
In the first Call to Action against underage drinking, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office
is increasing efforts to stop America’s 11 million underage drinkers from using alcohol and
to keep other young people from starting.
Noting the risks of underage drinking, the Call to Action outlines specific strategies. As part of the national effort, SAMHSA has released new public service announcements, billboards, and materials for the Reach Out Now program (see Ads, Billboards Highlight Younger Children and Reach Out Now Educates Teachers, Students) to help communities learn about and disseminate the message.
“Alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by America’s youth,” said
Acting Surgeon General Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H. “We can no longer ignore what alcohol
is doing to our children.”
Government and school officials, parents, other adults, and youth are working together to reach
the goals set forth in the Call to Action.
“This is a research-based document,” said Terry L. Cline, Ph.D., SAMHSA Administrator,
who chairs the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). “The
Call to Action discusses underage drinking in the context of adolescent development, and it provides
helpful suggestions for addressing the problem.”
In addition to the Call to Action, the Acting Surgeon General soon will release several “Guides
to Action” for use by families, communities, and educators. These short, colorful, easy-to-read
brochures will present the science behind underage drinking in a way “that Americans can understand
and apply to their own circumstances,” Dr. Moritsugu said. “The Office of the Surgeon
General is committed to provide the best scientific information in a way that people can use easily
and take active steps to increase their health and wellness.”
“Both the Call to Action and the guides will be valuable resources in assisting communities
in raising awareness of the extent of underage drinking,” said Dr. Moritsugu.
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage
Drinking is posted at
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Developed in collaboration with SAMHSA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
(NIAAA), The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking identifies
six goals to reduce the number of underage drinkers nationwide:
|| Foster changes in American culture that encourage healthy adolescent development.
|| Engage parents, schools, communities, and youth themselves in this national effort.
|| Promote an understanding of adolescence and risk taking as part of human behavior.
||Conduct additional research on adolescent alcohol use.
||Work to improve public health surveillance.
|| Ensure that policies at all levels are consistent with the national
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The Federal portal for comprehensive information on underage drinking is available at www.stopalcoholabuse.gov.
Reach Out Now is SAMHSA’s source for underage drinking prevention materials. The program
includes school-based “teach-ins” for fifth and sixth graders. www.teachin.samhsa.gov.
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Those who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol problems.
By age 14, 41 percent of children have had at least one drink.
Annually, more than 5,000 deaths of people under age 21 are linked to underage drinking.
Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS). The Surgeon General’s Call
to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. HHS, Office of the Surgeon General,
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