About the Bill: ‘‘Sober Truth on
Preventing Underage Drinking Act’’, or the ‘‘STOP Underage Drinking Act’’.
On Wednesday, July 21, Senators DeWine
(R-OH) and Dodd (D-CT) and Representatives Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Wolf (R-VA),
Wamp (R-TN), DeLauro (D-CT), and Osborne (R-NE) introduced the bi-partisan,
bi-cameral “Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act,” or “STOP
Underage Drinking Act” (H.R. 4888 in the House and S. 2718 in the Senate).
Inspired by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine’s September
2003 recommendations to Congress for a national strategy to prevent and reduce
underage drinking (“Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility”),
the bill represents a long-overdue acknowledgement of the need to begin
addressing the many harms related to underage drinking.
WHAT THE “STOP UNDERAGE DRINKING ACT”
The companion House and Senate bills
include four areas of policy development.
1) Improved Federal Coordination and
Leadership on Underage Drinking Prevention:
The bill provides $2 million for a
committee of federal agencies focused on underage drinking. Chaired by the
Secretary of Health and Human Services, the committee is charged with guiding
policy and program development across the federal government with respect to
underage drinking. The committee will also produce two reports – an annual
report to Congress on progress at the federal level and a report card to
evaluate efforts at the state level. The annual report to Congress will
a. All programs and policies of federal
agencies designed to prevent underage drinking.
b. The extent of progress in reducing
underage drinking nationally.
c. Patterns and consequences of underage
d. Measures of the availability of alcohol
to underage populations and of the exposure of this population to messages
regarding alcohol in advertising and entertainment media.
e. Findings derived from the additional
research on underage drinking called for by the bill, such as brand preferences
of underage drinkers and their exposure to alcohol advertising.
f. Evidence-based best practices to both
prevent underage drinking and provide treatment services to those youth who need
g. Such other information regarding
underage drinking as the Secretary deems appropriate.
The annual “report card” will assess
the performance of each state in enacting and enforcing laws, regulations, and
programs to prevent and reduce underage drinking. The inter-agency committee, in
consultation with public health, consumer, and alcoholic beverage industry
groups, will create measures to evaluate state progress in adopting and
implementing programs that can reduce underage drinking (such as strict
enforcement of minimum drinking age laws, compliance checks of alcohol retail
outlets, levels of investment of State funds in underage drinking prevention and
2) Beginnings of a National Media Campaign
to Prevent Underage Drinking:
The bill provides for the Secretary of
Health and Human Services to continue funding and overseeing the production,
broadcasting, and evaluation of the Ad Council’s adult-oriented public service
media campaign. The bill provides $1 million for each of the fiscal years 2005
and 2006. It also requires the Secretary to provide an annual report to Congress
detailing the progress and effectiveness of the campaign as well as the need for
and likely effectiveness of an expanded adult-oriented media campaign, and the
feasibility and likely effectiveness of a national youth-focused media campaign
to combat underage drinking.
3) Funding for Community and Campus
Efforts to Prevent Underage Drinking:
The bill provides $5 million in FY 2005
for the award of “enhancement grants” of up to $50,000 for organizations to
design, test, evaluate, and disseminate strategies to maximize the effectiveness
of community-wide approaches to underage drinking. The bill further provides $5
million in FY 2005 for the Secretary of Education to award grants to enable
eligible entities to reduce the rate of underage alcohol use, binge drinking,
and drug use among college and university students.
4) Additional Research and Data Collection
on Underage Drinking:
The act provides $6 million to the
Secretary of Health and Human Services to collect data on, and conduct or
support research on, underage drinking with respect to the following:
a. The short and long-range impact of
alcohol use and abuse upon adolescent brain development.
b. Community-based strategies to prevent
c. Improved knowledge of the scope of the
underage drinking problem and progress in preventing
and treating underage drinking.
d. More precise information than is
currently collected on the type and quantity of alcoholic
beverages consumed by underage drinkers as
well as information on brand preferences of these drinkers and their exposure to
WHY IT’S NEEDED
Alcohol is the leading drug problem among
young people in the United States and underage drinking contributes to the
deaths of 6.5 times more young people than all illicit drugs combined. The
public health, safety, consumer protection, education, child and family welfare,
and faith communities have fought for years to elevate underage drinking on the
national public policy agenda. This bill represents an important first step in
developing an effective national response to the devastating public health and
safety problem of underage drinking.
CSPI's Press Release on the STOP Act:
text of the Bill (29 pages, pdf)