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underage drinking (Wagenaar et al., 2002) shows almost universal recognition of this problem. In fact, 98 percent of adults polled said they were concerned about teen drinking and 66 percent said they were “very concerned.” Moreover, a majority of respondents favored strong regulatory actions, such as additional controls on alcohol sales and advertising that would “make it harder for teenagers to get alcoholic beverages.” In 1999, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) added the goal of reducing underage drinking to its mission statement, and its activities and public statements increasingly reflect this focus (e.g., Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 2002). Underage drinking has also won the attention of the spouses of the nation’s governors, many of whom have come together to form the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA, part of the National Institutes of Health). In collaboration with the American Medical Association (AMA), the RWJF has also provided long-term support to 12 community and 10 university-based coalitions with the specific mission of reducing and preventing underage drinking. The AMA has itself also become increasingly active on the issue of underage drinking, calling for tighter regulation of alcohol availability, higher excise taxes, and restrictions on alcohol advertising. Members of the alcohol industry also have continued their efforts to discourage underage drinking through responsible drinking campaigns and approaches such as server, parent, and youth-oriented education and involvement in prevention efforts on college campuses.

Underage drinking has also begun to attract increased government attention in Washington. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), at the request of Congress, recently reviewed the alcohol industry’s advertising and marketing practices. Its report (U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 1999) called on alcohol companies to move toward the “best practices” in the industry “to reduce underage alcohol ad exposure.” In 2003 Congress called on the FTC to revisit its inquiry into alcohol advertising and youth and to investigate if and how the recommendations issued in its 1999 report have been implemented by the alcohol industry. Advocacy groups have also urged Congress to include underage alcohol use in the major media campaign being waged against illegal drug use under the auspices of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.


In 2001 Congress responded to the increasing level of public concern about underage alcohol consumption by appropriating funds for a study by The National Academies. Acting through the NIAAA and the Substance

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