WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) today, along with Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), introduced the Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act Reauthorization, legislation designed to prevent underage drinking. According to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey released yesterday, the largest national survey of adolescents regarding their drug and alcohol use, underage drinking has decreased significantly and alcohol use among 12th graders marks the lowest level of alcohol use since the study’s inception in 1975.
The reauthorization builds upon the success of the original STOP ACT, which Dodd shepherded through Congress in 2006. The bill will continue federal government efforts to combat underage drinking and increase prevention activities in states and local communities, including college campuses. It would also continue public service media campaigns to increase adult awareness of the threat alcohol poses to their children, as well as increase research and data collection done at the federal level on adolescent alcohol use and brain development.
“Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking and underage drinking contributes to the four leading causes of deaths among 15 to 20 year-olds,” said Senator Dodd. “The Stop Act has made great strides to combat underage drinking nationwide but we must continue to build upon these successes to ensure more communities are better equipped to prevent underage drinking. If we can keep one kid from drinking, make one school a better and safer place to learn, help one community break the cycle of dependence, then we are closer to fully addressing the problem. I thank Senators Lautenberg, Casey, and Merkley for championing this important legislation in the next Congress.”
“The STOP Act is helping put the brakes on underage drinking. It is a program that has helped reduce the number of high school students who drink, and it is a program that deserves our continued support,” said Senator Lautenberg, who authored the law that changed the legal drinking age to 21. “Underage drinking is a significant and widespread threat to public health and safety. I will continue fighting to protect teens from the dangers of alcohol and support prevention programs.”
“The success of the original STOP Act speaks for itself,” said Senator Casey. “Our children and teens deserve our continued commitment to the programs in the STOP Act that reduce and prevent underage drinking. Even one death due to underage drinking is too many. I am dedicated to working with my colleagues to pass the reauthorization of the STOP Act. I would like to thank Senator Dodd for his continued efforts on behalf of America’s children and for introducing this critically important legislation.”
“Too many families are torn apart as a result of youth drinking. By partnering with proven community organizations, the federal government can help reduce senseless deaths. The STOP Act has already helped Oregon programs that reduce youth alcohol use. This legislation will make sure the program continues,” said Senator Merkley. “I commend Senator Dodd for his long time leadership and continuing efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.”
Throughout his nearly three decades in the Senate, Dodd has backed federal programs and legislation aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse as well as underage drinking. Dodd fought to incorporate substance abuse prevention and treatment into the health care reform bill. He has also introduced several pieces of legislation focused on reducing substance abuse in communities, including the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program in addition to the STOP Act, both of which were signed into law.