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WASHINGTON -- National Alcohol Awareness Month kicked off this week, and with it, brewers; parents; schools; state and local governments, and other supporters dedicated themselves to reducing illegal underage drinking and drunken driving.
While there is much still to accomplish, Beer Institute President Jeff Becker is optimistic about the strategies to reduce underage drinking through community efforts like those efforts suggested by the Surgeon General -- such as parents' active role in their children's lives both in and out of school.
The number of high school students who reported drinking in the past month -- 43.3 percent -- is an all-time low, according to the 2005 Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior survey.
"Curbing youth access to alcohol, effective law enforcement and education and prevention programs are all working, generating measurable and positive results in the fight against illegal underage drinking and drunken driving," Becker said. "Over the past 25 years, brewers have developed and supported programs that have helped bring about significant declines in underage drinking. We are committed to continue working with all segments of society -- parents, community leaders, law enforcement, retailers and other allies -- to take these proven efforts to prevent underage drinking to the next level."
Members of the Beer Institute spend more than $50 million each year on prevention programs. In addition, the organization has distributed more than 6 million guidebooks, videos and other materials that aid in creating a dialogue between parents and their children on underage drinking, along with 1.5 million cards and stickers to help retailers check IDs and screen sales to minors.
Drunken driving statistics also show promise. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the number of drunken driving fatalities in 2005 was down 39 percent since the earliest data recorded in 1982.
To continue their work, brewers collaborate with federal alcohol beverage control agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Ad Council.
"We commend these organizations and the Surgeon General on their relentless determination to combat illegal underage drinking and drunken driving. We are proud of our partnerships with them and vow to continue working together," Becker said.