Enzi Backs Surgeon General's Underage Drinking Campaign

The U.S. Surgeon General's Office asked Americans on March 6 to do more to stop America's 11 million current underage drinkers from using alcohol and to keep other young people from starting. The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., quickly endorsed the action.

Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H., offered recommendations for government and school officials, parents, and young people. "Too many Americans consider underage drinking a rite of passage to adulthood," he said. "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." His Call to Action was developed with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and has six goals, including conducting more research on adolescent alcohol use and its relationship to development, as well as improving public health surveillance on underage drinking.

Enzi's office issued a statement yesterday that thanked the agencies and said SAMHSA's reauthorization this year is critical. "We have a clear problem here, and there is no 'silver bullet' to solve it," Enzi said. "I believe that the goals laid out by the surgeon general, NIAAA, and SAMHSA represent the next important step to build on the provisions of [the STOP Underage Drinking Act, passed last year] and stop our youth from abusing alcohol."

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