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For Immediate Release
March 6, 2007

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Prepared to Answer the Surgeon General’s
Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking

Responding to today’s release of a report by Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said he will work with the state’s alcohol prevention partners to help spread the word of the risks associated with underage drinking and what can be done to prevent it. The report, entitled, Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/underagedrinking/calltoaction.pdf), identifies underage drinking as a serious public health and safety problem that must be addressed early, continuously and in the context of human development. The Call to Action offers goals for reducing and preventing underage drinking and outlines how parents, schools, prosecutors, health care professionals, government and community officials, and youth can achieve the goals.

“Underage drinking is a serious pediatric health issue that demands our immediate attention,” said Attorney General Gansler. “As the number one drug of choice among youth, alcohol has been shown to cause long-term and sometimes irreversible effects on developing brains. We must get youth, parents and other adults to understand the serious health risks associated with youth drinking and find ways to change the environment that leads to underage drinking. I completely agree with the Acting Surgeon General that underage drinking is not inevitable and certainly not an acceptable rite of passage.”

The National Association of Attorneys General Youth Access to Alcohol Committee formed in 2004 to work to reduce underage drinking. 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.

The Call to Action incorporates several key aspects of March 2006 comments submitted by the Attorneys General’s Committee, specifically including the need to reduce the overexposure of youth and college students to alcohol industry marketing practices. Some of the specific measures noted by the Surgeon General include reducing outdoor alcohol advertising, eliminating ads that portray alcohol as an appropriate rite of passage to adulthood or an essential element in achieving popularity or success, eliminating alcohol products that disproportionately appeal to youth, designing websites and Internet ads that do not especially attract or appeal to youth, and on college campuses, eliminating alcohol sponsorship of college athletics and other social events, and eliminating alcohol advertising in college publications.

Attorney General Gansler recently joined other Attorneys General in recommending that Anheuser-Busch enhance its age verification process to prevent underage access to its new Bud.TV promotional website. Previously, in other youth alcohol prevention efforts, the Maryland Attorney General stopped a tobacco company from distributing coasters with messages that promote excessive drinking (http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2005/121405.htm); called upon the alcohol industry to use lessons learned from the tobacco litigation settlement to reduce youth exposure to alcohol marketing (http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2006/082406.htm); asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at alcohol marketing and the role it plays in underage drinking (http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2006/051606.htm); and successfully encouraged distillers to remove alcohol ads from school and library magazine subscriptions (http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2006/032106.htm).

   

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