Acting Surgeon General Issues National Call to Action on Underage Drinking
In its first Call to Action against underage drinking, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office appealed today to Americans to do more to stop America's 11 million current underage drinkers from using alcohol, and to keep other young people from starting.
Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H., laid out recommendations for government and school officials, parents, other adults and the young people.
"Too many Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to adulthood," said Dr. Moritsugu. "Research shows that young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life. New research also indicates that alcohol may harm the developing adolescent brain. The availability of this research provides more reasons than ever before for parents and other adults to protect the health and safety of our nation's children."
Although there has been a significant decline in tobacco and illicit drug use among teens, underage drinking has remained at consistently high levels. The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates there are 11 million underage drinkers in the United States. Nearly 7.2 million are considered binge drinkers, typically meaning they drank more than five drinks on occasion, and more than two million are classified as heavy drinkers.
Developed in collaboration with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Call to Action identifies six goals:
"Alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by America's youth," said Dr. Moritsugu. "This Call to Action is attempting to change the culture and attitudes toward drinking in America. We can no longer ignore what alcohol is doing to our children."
Copies of The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking and other related materials are available at
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last revised: March 6, 2007