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called Prevention Plus, based on these conferences, is now available for use
in schools and communities.
Its purpose is to marshal the school and
community resources to develop more comprehensive prevention programs.
In March of this year, Secretary Dole, Governor Volpe and I had the
opportunity to participate in the first national conference for youth on
teenage drinking and driving. The conference was held in Chevy Chase,
Maryland at the National 4-H Center and was attended by nearly 400 bright,
energetic young people from every State and Territory.
These young people
joined together dedicated to eliminating drunk driving among their peers. Their sincerity, enthusiasm, and determination, give one faith in the future.
Right now, these young people who met in Chevy Chase are mounting
anti-drinking and driving campaigns base on positive peer pressure.
effort focuses on using young people to persuade other young people that
drinking and driving is not acceptable and can be deadly. Since this
conference, 34 States have reported starting new anti-drinking and driving
Next April, I intend to convene the Second Annual Conference for
Youth on Drinking and Driving to continue this initiative.
In addition to these conferences, this past spring we sponsored a special art
exhibit for young people which featured works depicting teenage drinking and
I am also pleased that this Fall we are helping to organize 15 more
conferences which will help communities assess the need for treatment
programs, for students who encounter problems associated with the use of
alcohol and drugs. When someone's drinking gets out of hand, do parents know where to turn? Do children? Do friends? These meetings will provide
answers, explain what treatment may consist of, and show
All of these actions are part of a Secretarial initiative of high personal
priority and are aimed at getting the appropriate message to our young people.
Additionally, in recent years, largely in response to growing public concern,
many States have moved to raise the minimum age for possession, purchase, and
consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Evidence is accumulating which indicates
that raising the legal drinking age significantly reduces alcohol-related motor vehicle accident involvement among this age group. However, while I
believe that this can be an effective measure to reduce the tragic toll of
alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents among young people, at the same
time, I believe that this is an appropriate matter for the States to consider
rather than be mandated at the Federal level as proposed in H.R. 3870.
It is my belief that the actions of the Federal, State, and local Governments,
as well as citizens groups, including groups such as Student Aganist Drunk
Driving (SADD) and Mothers Aganist Drunk Driving (MADD), can have a positive
impact on this tragic problem.
The Gallup Poll
21-Year National Drinking-Age Law Backed By Large Majority Of Public
By George Gallup PRINCETON, N.J. If the American people were voting today in a nationwide referendum on a law making 21 the national minimum drinking age, the large majority, including young people, would vote "yes."
Drunk driving reportedly causes 25.000 auto fatalities and costs the nation some $24 billion each year. Some states which have taken tough measures to deal with drunk driving, including raising their legal drinking age, report sharp reductions in alcobol-related accidents.
One of the principal arguments for raising the legal age is that it would help prevent high-school seniors, many of whom are now of legal age, from buying alcoholic beverages for their younger schoolmates.
Gallup surveys have shown strong public support for raising the minimum drinking age in states where it is legal to drink at ages 18 or 19. However, a 1981 Gallup Youth Survey of 13-10-18-year-olds found that far fewer teenagers living in states with lower drinking ages favored raising the legal age, while in states with higher limits, many more teen-agers expressed a preference for lowering the drinking age.
Following is the question asked of adults in the latest survey and the key findings:
Do you favor or oppose a national law that would raise the legal drinking age in all stales to 21?
National Drinking-Age Law
Favor Oppose No opinion % %
18-20 years 21-29 years 30-49 years 50 and over
58 72 77 83
38 24 20 14
70 80 78
28 17 14
Adults of all ages express support for a uniform national drinking age. Even 18., 19., and 20-year-olds vote for the proposed legislation, by a 3-to-2 ratio. These young men and women would not be able to legally buy or drink alcoholic beverages if such a law were enacted. At present, 34 states and the District of Columbia permit adults under 21 to drink all or some forms of alcoholic beverage.
The strongest (6-10-1) backing for the proposal comes from persons 50 and older, with proportionately less support as age decreases. Thus, 83% of those 50 and older favor a national minimum-age law, compared to 77% of 30-10-49-year-olds, 72% of 21-10-29-year-olds, and 58% of 18-to-20-year-olds. Also, men and persons who attended college population groups in which there is a high incidence of drinking express somewhat greater opposition to the proposed law.
Accidents Decline When the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1971, giving 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds the right to vote in national elections, many states lowered their minimum legal drinking age. This reflected the belief that if young people were old enough to vote, marry, and serve in the armed forces, they were mature enough to drink responsibly. However, with teen-agers disproportionately involved in alcohol-related auto accidents, state legislators have been reassessing their drinking-age laws. As recently as 1979, 12 states permitted 18-year-olds to drink; today only five do.
Spurred by parents of children killed in accidents involving drunk drivers, President Reagan last year named a 32-member commission to study the drunkdriving problem. One of the commission's key recommendations urged states to raise the legal age for buying or consuming alcoholic beverages to 21.
82 78 70 76
16 18 24 21
2 4 6 3
AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION
8111 GATEHOUSE ROAD FALLS CHURCH VIRGINIA 22047 • 703 AAA 6000 • CABLE AMERAUTO • TELEX 89.9485
October 18, 1983
The Honorable James J. Florio
Transportation and Tourism
Dear Mr. Florio:
The American Automobile Association supports efforts to establish a minimum drink age of 21 in the various states. AAA commends your concern regarding this issue.
As you are highly aware, statistics alone are dramatic enough to illustrate the need for action. Of the 25,000 Americans who have died each year from alcohol-related accidents, roughly 35 percent are between the ages of 16 and 24. It is no wonder that the Surgeon General has reported that life expectancy in this country has increased for every age group, with the exception of the 15-24 year olds.
AAA has long recognized that drunk driving has caused far too many traffic fatalities. We have been active in developing educational materials for almost 20 years to address the continuing problem of drinking and driving. As more research results have become available, we have responded by providing educational programs for younger and younger students because the problem is starting earlier. Our latest program addresses attitudes towards alcohol for school children in grades K-6.
Of course, we realize that other measures are necessary and desirable to combat such a complex problem. One of the policies our organization has worked to achieve is a uniform drinking age of 21. We feel this is essential in bringing down the level of drunk driving in young people, and it appears that studies have supported our belief. Especially positive results were shown in Michigan, where a 31 percent decrease in alcohol-related deaths (among 18 to 20 yearolds) resulted from raising the drinking age to 21.
In our view, a uniform drinking age would eliminate the problem of teenagers crossing state lines to purchase alcoholic beverages. We intend to make substantial efforts, through AAA clubs across the country, to raise the drinking age to 21 in the various state legislatures. In light of the positive momentum created by heightened public awareness of the drunken driving problem we believe efforts on the state level will be fruitful in the near future,
We do, however, feel that the state legislatures are the most appropriate forums to address the issue of the drinking age. Mandates imposed by Washington often are resented by local citizens. Consequently, we believe that age 21 drinking laws will be more respected and adhered to if enacted by local legislatures rather than by federal fiat. This concern has also led us to strongly oppose the use of highway funding sanctions to require enactment of age 21 drinking laws, or for any other purpose.
Thank you for creating the opportunity for us, and the many other individuals and groups interested in this issue, to discuss the drinking age question.
in motor vehicles and improved fireproofing
reduction or elimination of nitrosamines); - efforts by community institutions to modify
social settings and contexts to reduce the risk
regulating the conditions of availability of
substances are available for authorized uses,
hopes and in other long-term care facilities.
other means of affecting the price of alcohol; - tax incentives or disincentives to control
levels advertising expenditures for alco
holic beverages. b. Relative strength of the measures • Systematic evaluation of the effects of education
and yearly intervention programs targeted at children and youth and populations at special
risk is at an early stage. • Regulatory measures have been the Nation's
primary tool of drug abuse prevention during most of the 20th century. There is much debate
about the overall cost-benefit assessment of the current prohibitions. From a more limited perspective, however, some recent trends tend 10 support claims that regulatory approaches have
had an impact on the extent of drug use. • Heroin addiction in this country has been de
clining in recent years, coincident with reduced supplies on the illegal market and the extensive availability of treatment services. Late in 1979, however, the supply and incidence of heroin use increased in several Eastern cities. Also, barbiturate-related mortality has been declining steadily as a result of increased legal controls, greater physician awareness of the most efficacious uses of these drugs, and improved public awareness of the hazards associated with the use of barbiturates in combination with other
depressants. • Mass media campaigns that have focused public
attention upon alcohol use and abuse may have contributed to a period of relative stability in alcohol consumption during the seventies (al. though economic conditions were also a likely significant factor). Alcohol problems, as noted by several indicators (cirrhosis mortality rate decline, survey data on alcohol consumption among youth and adults), appear also to bave leveled off during this period of apparent stability. While direct causal attribution is not possible, the creation of a National alcoholism treatment network and early intervention services in the workplace probably played a role in the
stabilization of cirrhosis deaths. • Alcoholic beverage regulation has not tradition
ally been focused on public health considerations, but data concerning the impact of regulatory initiatives on tobacco smoking may be transferable to the alcohol area. Research here and in other countries suggests that the availability of alcohol may affect the level and type of alcohol problems, particularly physical health problems consequent to long-term excessive drinking. Consumption, in turn, has been linked fairly conclusively to the relative price of alcohol, and less conclusively to such factors as the legal purchase age, number and dispersion of retail on-premise and off-premise outlets, and hours of saie. Also "Dram Shop” laws can offer powerful incentives for alcoholic beverage licensces to try to reduce the likelihood of intoxica
Hon among their patrons. • In general, alcohol and drug education programs
can increase information levels and modify attitudes. Their effect on drinking or drug-using behavior has not yet been demonstrated conclusively, although recent studies have yielded en
couraging preliminary findings. „3. Specific Objectives for 1990
• Improved health status
a. By 1990, fatalities from motor vehicle accidents