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November 22, 2014
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Legislative UpdatesLegislative Updates
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109th Congress

Public Laws | arrow indicating current page Pending Legislation

Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act
(STOP Underage Drinking Act)

H.R. 864/S. 408

Background

By the time they reach the eighth grade, nearly 50 percent of U.S. adolescents have had at least one alcoholic drink, and more than 20 percent report having been “drunk.” Approximately 20 percent of 8th graders and almost 50 percent of 12th graders report having consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. Among 12th graders, almost 30 percent report drinking on three or more occasions per month. Approximately 30 percent of 12th graders report having engaged in heavy episodic drinking or “binge” drinking—that is, having at least five or more drinks on one occasion—once within a 2-week period. It is estimated that 20 percent do so more frequently.

An important factor in underage drinking is availability. Many interventions aimed at the individual have been supplemented by policy changes intended to help reduce youth access to alcohol and decrease the harmful consequences of established drinking. For example, raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 in all States saved an estimated 20,000 lives between 1975 and 2000. In addition, all States now have zero–tolerance laws, which set the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers younger than age 21 at 0.00 or 0.02 percent. This has been associated with a 20–percent decline in the number of single–vehicle, nighttime fatal crashes among drivers younger than age 21.

On September 9, 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies released a report entitled “Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility.” One of IOM’s six recommendations for Federal and State governments was the creation of a Federal interagency coordinating committee; this recommendation was incorporated in these bills.

The legislation calls for modified enforcement of drinking laws, steps to reduce alcohol’s availability to teenagers, increased research on underage drinking, and additional resources for local community efforts. It will also begin the process of developing an adult-oriented media campaign and improve monitoring of the alcohol advertising reaching youth.

Provisions of the Legislation/Impact on NIH

Section 501 of the legislation requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collect data and conduct or support research on underage drinking with respect to 1) the short- and long-range impact of alcohol use and abuse on adolescent brain development and other organ systems, 2) comprehensive community-based programs or strategies and statewide systems to prevent underage drinking from early childhood to young adulthood, including programs funded and implemented by government entities, public health interest groups and foundations, and alcohol beverage companies and trade associations, 3) improved knowledge of the scope of the underage drinking problem and progress in preventing and treating underage drinking, and 4) annually obtaining 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 alcohol advertising.

Status and Outlook

H.R. 864 was introduced by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) on February 16, 2005, and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. On November 14, 2006, the bill was passed by the House by a voice vote. It was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent on December 6. On December 20, the President signed the bill into law as P.L. 109-422.

S. 408 was introduced by Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) on February 16, 2005, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. No further action occurred on this legislation during the 109th Congress.

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