Lawmakers Address Young Drinkers
With young children starting to drink at an early age, two U.S. lawmakers are addressing the problem with the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act, the Middletown (Conn.) Press reported July 25.
The bill is intended to help states like Connecticut, where the average child has an alcoholic drink for the first time at age 11. Nationwide, the average age is 13. Furthermore, Connecticut's underage drinking rate is 26 percent, much higher than the national average.
The Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio).
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which lobbied for the bill, said it is "the first substantial step in underage drinking prevention" since the drinking age was raised to 21 in 1984.
The bill has four key components: providing $2 million to promote cooperation among various federal agencies to fight underage drinking; allocating $6 million to increase national research; enabling states, non-profits and institutions of higher learning to compete for $5 million in grants to prevent underage drinking; and implementing a $1-million ad campaign designed to educate adults about prohibiting their children from drinking at home.
"There are significant new scientific studies in the past year that have shown the impact of alcohol on the brain of adolescents. The stakes are much higher than they once were. The brain continues to develop up until the age of 21 or 22, so it is very logical to set the limit at that level," said Gary Najarian, project director for the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking.
The bill heads to several committees, among them the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee.