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Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking

Key Federal Underage Drinking Prevention Programs

Alcohol is the drug of choice among America’s adolescents, used by more young people than tobacco or illicit drugs. An estimated 10.8 million young people between the ages of 12-20 (28.2 percent of this age group) are current drinkers. Nearly 7.2 million (18.8 percent) are binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.0 percent) are heavy drinkers.

The Federal effort to address underage drinking is coordinated by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD), which is chaired by the SAMHSA Administrator, on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The ICCPUD agencies support a wide range of programs that, taken together, provide a comprehensive response to the challenge of preventing underage drinking. A list of ICCPUD agencies and key Federal programs follows. For more exhaustive information on Federal programs, please visit

Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD)

  • Town Hall Meetings: In 2006, SAMHSA, in collaboration with ICCPUD, supported over 1200 Town Hall Meetings in all 50 States. The meetings provided an opportunity for communities to learn more about new underage drinking research, and to discuss how their community could best prevent underage alcohol use.
  • Website of Federal Underage Drinking Prevention Resources: The ICCPUD created a Federal web site ( that includes a searchable database of Federal programs/resources related to the prevention of underage drinking. The web site also supports the Ad Council underage drinking PSAs by serving as a resource for parents who want more information after seeing a PSA.
  • National Meeting of the States on the Prevention of Underage Drinking: In fall 2005, the ICCPUD agencies held a one and a half day national meeting on the prevention of underage drinking. The meeting informed State teams about the most recent research; and provided an opportunity for each team to start planning how they could strengthen their own efforts to reduce underage drinking, and to maximize participation in the meetings of communities across the country that were held in March 2006.
  • Underage Drinking Public Service Campaign Directed at Parents: The Ad Council and SAMHSA, in collaboration with ICCPUD, have developed an underage drinking prevention campaign directed at parents of 9- to 15-year-olds. Products include four television PSAs as well as PSAs for radio, print, and Internet.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Population-Based Tracking of Underage Drinking: Through the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects nationwide and State-specific survey data on the extent of underage drinking on an ongoing basis among high school students, adults aged 18-20 years, and among women aged 13 years or older who recently had a live birth.
  • Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI): CDC developed and supports an easy-to-use software package called ARDI that allows users to estimate, at the State or local level, the number of deaths and years of potential life lost related to excessive alcohol consumption, including estimates specifically tailored for persons under 21.
  • Evidenced-Based Systematic Reviews of Scientific Research: The Community Guide Branch at CDC is systematically reviewing scientific research on the effectiveness of several programs and policies (e.g., enhanced enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws) for reducing excessive alcohol consumption and related harms. The HHS-chartered Task Force on Community Preventive Services uses these reviews to assess effectiveness and to make recommendations. In 2006, for example, the Task Force recommended enhanced enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

  • Initiative on Underage Drinking: This initiative seeks to understand and address drinking by youth in the context of overall child and adolescent development. Current activities include: research investments and collaborations to address critical questions and move the science forward, development of publications ranging from one-page information sheets to in-depth reviews of the state of the science, and dissemination of information to multiple constituencies. For more information:
  • Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free: Established in 2000 by NIAAA and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free is a unique non-partisan coalition of Governors’ spouses, federal agencies, and public and private organizations working to prevent the use of alcohol by children s 9- to 15-years-old. Members of the Leadership use this platform to engage policy-makers and opinion leaders, build public awareness, and identify and support comprehensive solutions to prevent childhood drinking. For more information:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • Prevention Day - A Focus on Underage Drinking: In February 2007, SAMHSA brought together over 1400 CSAP grantees, community organizations, prevention leaders, and public health activists from all 50 States to receive training specific to underage drinking prevention and to meet with other grantees from their State. Seven ICCPUD agencies led workshops addressing a wide range of issues related to underage drinking prevention and reduction.
  • Reach Out Now Fifth and Sixth Grade Scholastic, Inc. Supplements (RON): SAMHSA and Scholastic, Inc. have developed special materials devoted to underage drinking that target 10- to 12-years-olds and their parents. The materials, which are sent to every fifth and sixth grade class in America, include a classroom discussion guide for teachers, activity sheet for students, and a take-home packet for parents. In addition, SAMHSA provides information and technical support to national, State, and local leaders who choose to use the RON materials to conduct Teach-Ins in a fifth or sixth grade classroom, thereby raising the visibility of the issue in their State/community. In 2006, SAMHSA directly supported over 1300 teach-ins in all 50 States.
  • Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) State Incentive Grant (SIG) Program: Through 2006, the SPF SIG Grants have given the governors of 42 States, Territories, and Tribal organizations the opportunity to enhance their States’ substance abuse prevention systems and fill gaps in programs with evidence-based services to address widespread problems related to substance abuse. State applicants must include the prevention of underage alcohol consumption in their SPF SIG Project and provide a comprehensive strategy that addresses this problem, in addition to other SPF SIG priorities.

Department of Defense

  • Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program: For young family members who attend the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DODDS), there is a program that addresses alcohol abuse. This program, which is the adopted drug education program for Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA), is called the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E.). It is taught as a part of the DoDDS Health Curriculum. Currently DARE instruction within the elementary schools is for a period of 17 weeks and in the middle schools 10 weeks.
  • Drug Education for Youth (DEFY): DEFY is a Service-level program in place at 19 installations. DEFY provides a collaborative community program with summer camp and ongoing mentoring for youth ages 9-12.

Department of Education

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools (OSDFS)

  • Grants to Reduce Alcohol Abuse in Secondary Schools (GRAA): The OSDFS program provides funding to local schools to implement evidenced-based programs to prevent and reduce underage drinking. The program targets the reduction of binge drinking and attitudes and beliefs about alcohol use through school-based model programs involving schools, families and communities. Services under the GRAA also include the provision of technical assistance in program implementation and evaluation through annual, regional training and technical assistance conferences, and information dissemination to participating schools.
  • Campus- and Community-based Prevention Programs: OSDFS has funded campus- and community-based prevention programs for two decades, in response to alcohol and other drug abuse and violence on college campuses and in their surrounding communities. Through discretionary grants, an annual national conference, and dissemination of information on effective strategies via its Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention, ED supports efforts to address these complex issues facing our nation's institutions of higher education.

Department of Justice

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)

  • Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) Program: OJJDP’s EUDL program encourages partnerships between law enforcement agencies and underage drinking prevention advocates in all 50 States and the District of Columbia for the purpose of reducing access to and consumption of alcohol by minors. National training and technical assistance is offered to guide States and communities in their efforts. Details about EUDL efforts may be found at the program website,
  • Youth Courts: Youth courts, also called teen, peer, and student courts, are programs in which youthful offenders are sentenced for minor delinquent and status offenses or problem behaviors by their peers. Federal funding supports training; technical assistance; program development guides; operational materials for adults and youth; data collection; research; and other efforts to support the national infrastructure of local youth court programs. Information and other youth court services may be found at
  • Juvenile and Family Drug Courts: In 2004, OJJDP assumed management of the juvenile and family drug court program for the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The drug court approach has been modified over time to operate within the juvenile justice system to address the unique needs of juvenile substance abusers and within the civil justice system, to address the substance abuse of parents who are charged with abuse and neglect of their children. The drug court program uses the coercive power of the judicial branch to foster abstinence and helps alter destructive behavior through a combination of escalating sanctions, mandatory drug testing, treatment, and effective aftercare.

Department of Transportation

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  • Underage Drinking Youth Access to Alcohol High Visibility Enforcement Campaign Demonstration Program: This demonstration will test the validity of applying the high visibility enforcement model used in NHTSA's occupant protection and impaired driving campaigns to the issue of youth access to alcohol. Demonstration sites will focus on access by high school age youth, reaching parents and other adults who often provide access; and add a highly visible media component to enhance enforcement efforts by liquor law and traditional law enforcement.
  • Development of a Model Youth Traffic Safety Program Addressing Underage Drinking through SADD: NHTSA has partnered with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) since its inception more than two decades ago, developing numerous program materials to address underage drinking and driving. This effort will work with the NE Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies to research and develop new materials applying prevention principles learned through evaluation of existing SADD programming for high school youth.
  • Reducing Alcohol-Related Driving and Non-Occupant Injuries Among Hispanic Youth: This effort, in partnership with ASPIRA, is to determine if there are promising underage drinking and drinking and driving strategies that can be adapted for the Latino population, or if there are existing evidence-based efforts that can be delivered through channels that more effectively reach the Hispanic community. The target audience is high school age Hispanic youth and their families.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

  • Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Education Program. In October 2006 the FTC launched "We Don't Serve Teens," a consumer education campaign. It is designed to promote compliance with the legal drinking age and reduce teens' easy access to alcohol through social sources. The program includes a web site,, television ads, point-of-sale materials, and other materials distributed nationwide.
  • Federal Trade Commission, Alcohol Advertising Program. In March 2006, the FTC commenced a new study of alcohol industry compliance with self-regulatory guidelines; the study will be completed, and a report issued, in 2007.

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)

  • Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Grant Program: As a cornerstone of ONDCP’s National Drug Control Strategy, DFC provides the funding necessary for communities to identify and respond to local substance use problems. The DFC program is building a national network of community coalitions that are working to strengthen communities and reduce youth substance use (including alcohol). Visit for further information on DFC.
  • Media Campaign: ONDCP’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign addresses underage drinking in the context of teen drug use. The teen brand, Above the Influence, challenges teens to view "anything that makes me less than me is not for me." The Media Campaign's outreach to parents focuses on strong parental monitoring and communication skills that have been proven to reduce a range of risky behaviors, including underage drinking. In 2006, 1.8 million brochures on prevention were distributed. Almost half a million intervention materials were distributed.

Visit, for more information.

Members of the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Office of the Surgeon General
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Treasury
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Federal Trade Commission