Attorney General Rob McKenna announced that he will answer Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. The Surgeon General’s call accompanies a report that identifies underage drinking as a serious public health and safety problem that must be addressed early, continuously and in the context of human development.
As a member of the National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee, McKenna joined co-chairs in praising Dr. Moritsugu for his leadership in addressing this critically important child health issue and in offering help in implementing the recommendations of his report. The Committee studies youth exposure to alcohol advertising and access to alcohol, educates state Attorneys General on ways to reduce access and change social norms about underage drinking, and partners with national and state entities to augment and enhance on-going efforts to stop underage drinking.
“It’s time for parents and youths to take this warning seriously. The new brain research demonstrates that youth drinking has long-term and sometimes irreversible effects on developing brains,” McKenna said. “We must get youth, parents and other adults to understand the serious health risks associated with youth drinking and must also find ways to change the social norms around underage drinking.”
After attending a special briefing by the Surgeon General on the Call to Action, fellow Attorney General Steve Rowe of Maine said, “Attorneys General know first hand the devastating effects of youth drinking and we’ve been working within our states and nationally to try to address the problem.
“Unfortunately, too many people in this country do not fully understand the health implications of youth drinking,” Rowe said. “This is why the Surgeon General’s Call to Action is so important – he’s the country’s top physician and he’s warning the public that underage drinking is a serious pediatric health crisis that needs immediate attention.”
As a first step in Washington, McKenna announced that he would circulate the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to state alcohol policy makers and community prevention partners and ask them to join him in a meeting to discuss what steps they can take toward implementation of the recommendations.
He also committed to facilitating community involvement in addressing the issue of underage drinking, because this community problem demands a community solution.
McKenna will be out in the community on March 13, 2007 at State Liquor Store #69 on 5th Avenue in Seattle to unveil the new “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign. Partners in the event include the Washington Liquor Control Board, the Seattle Police Department and The Century Council. The Century Council has found that 96 percent of adults believe it is unacceptable for another parent or adult to provide alcohol to their teenager without permission, but nearly one in five adults believe it is acceptable for parents to provide alcohol to their teens.
Another campaign McKenna headed with the Washington State Liquor Control Board was targeted specifically at middle schools and called “Start Talking Before They Start Drinking.” McKenna said, “Underage drinking is not a problem unique to high schools. Statistically, children who have had frank and informed discussions about alcohol with their parents are much less likely to experiment with it.”
In 2005, McKenna partnered with The Century Council and Nickelodeon for a campaign called “Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids And Alcohol Don’t Mix.” The multimedia program was designed to help parents and trusted adults talk with young people about the dangers of alcohol before they are confronted with the opportunity to drink. Though directed primarily at parents, information booklets were also made available to every middle school principal in the state of Washington.
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Contact: Janelle Guthrie, Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725