Among the recent research findings cited in CAMY's status report:
To produce this report, CAMY reviewed epidemiological data and research on underage drinking released in 2004. In September 2003, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM) called for the Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual report on underage drinking.
To date, HHS has not published such a report. CAMY's report also charts federal inaction on several other recommendations made to Congress by the NRC/IOM as part of its September 2003 national strategy to reduce underage drinking.
Huge Public Health CrisisOn February 16, a bipartisan, bicameral group of federal legislators introduced the "STOP Underage Drinking Act," an important step toward implementing the NRC/IOM recommendations. It mandates an annual report from HHS, greater cooperation on the issue within the federal government, a media campaign about underage drinking aimed at adults, and the collection of better data on youth alcohol brand preferences and exposure to alcohol advertising.
"We have a huge public health crisis in this country with our kids drinking, and as a nation we are in denial," said David Jernigan, CAMY's research director. "The NRC/IOM made a simple recommendation: Reach out to parents. Tell them we have a problem and need to act. Instead, we take this information and bury it in a footnote here and there."
CAMY's report brings together the national research that is currently reported piecemeal. As such, it is designed as a template for the type of "annual report" recommended to Congress by the NRC/IOM.
Dangers of Underage Drinking"Under the new leadership of Secretary Leavitt, the Department of Health and Human Services has a historic opportunity to help protect children and adolescents from the dangers of underage drinking," said Jim O'Hara, CAMY executive director. "Public health is all about leadership, as we have seen time and again in the case of the Surgeons General and tobacco. We hope Secretary Leavitt will join the members of Congress who have already stepped up to the plate to help prevent underage drinking."
The report's federal scorecard found that, other than an interagency coordinating committee, which was formed by SAMHSA in 2004 and has issued a draft plan of action without a budget, there has been no progress made on most of the NRC/IOM's September 2003 recommendations. The NRC/IOM's national strategy was published as a report titled Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility.