Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Surgeon General Calls for Increased Focus on Underage Drinking

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Surgeon General Calls for Increased Focus on Underage Drinking

Article excerpt

U.S. Surgeon General Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H. addressed a standing-room-only audience at the CSAP National Prevention Conference, continuing to focus on underage drinking and usage of tobacco products. Dr. Novello called for an even greater partnership among parents, policy makers, health care providers, school administrations, law enforcement and the media.

"We know that preventing illegal underage drinking works best when the message is straightforward and clear --not mixed; when the messages our children get at home are the same ones they get at school, and are reinforced by the community, their peers, and the media," she said.

Surgeon General Novello made a passionate appeal for unity rather than blame. "The more I get involved in this issue, the more fingerpointing I see. The alcohol industry would have us believing that kids and their families are responsible for underage drinking problems. The kids would have us believe that it is their friends, the merchants, and all of us 'apathetic' adults who are the problem. The advertising industry would have us believe that we public health 'nuts' are the problem -- after all, the industry is only working to create 'brand loyalty', not to increase market share by luring our youth."

"I tell you, the time has come to move past all the fingerpointing and work together, with one voice, to solve this complex problem. We can't focus on, or point a finger at, parents and their kids, as the alcohol industry would have us believe, just as we can't simply point a finger at the industry alone, as many advocacy groups would have us believe. The key to our prevention efforts is the role of the community in solving the problem of illegal underage drinking and other drug abuse. Each of us shares the responsibility of becoming part of the solution, rather than a large part of the problem."

In a separate address to some 400 teenagers attending the CSAP conference, Dr. Novello continued to focus on messages of positive prevention in announcing the top college prevention programs of 1992. The competition was part of the CSAP's ongoing campaign, "Put on the Brakes: Take a Look at College Drinking!" The nationwide program targets college campuses, as well as those who influence campus drinking policies and practices

The Surgeon General put the problem of underage drinking on college campuses in perspective, telling students, You bought more booze than books. …

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