Congresswomen Roybal-Allard and Bono Mack Introduce Support 21 Act

From www.cadca.org

Last week, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) introduced the Support 21 Act of 2009, a bill that would strengthen local and national efforts to prevent underage drinking. Rep. Roybal-Allard announced the bill during CADCA´s 19th annual National Leadership Forum, the nation´s largest conference for community alcohol and drug prevention advocates and substance abuse professionals.

The Support 21 Act of 2009 (HR 1028) authorizes a new highly visible media campaign to educate the public about underage drinking laws and build support for their enforcement. It asks the National Academy of Sciences to provide a report to Congress about the influence of drinking alcohol on the development of the adolescent brain. The bill also authorizes supplemental grant funds to current and former Drug Free Community grantees to work with pediatric health care providers and parents to reduce underage drinking. Additional grants would also be provided to assist pediatric medical organizations in educating providers on best practices for screening their adolescent patients, doing brief interventions, and making appropriate referrals. Finally, the bill will establish a new focus in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on underage drinking surveillance and prevention.

“Community anti-drug coalitions throughout the country are all too familiar with the damaging effects that underage drinking has on youth and families. They know that alcohol abuse costs the United States an estimated $184 billion and that the longer that youth wait to take their first drink reduces the chance that they’ll develop alcohol problems later in life,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA Chairman and CEO. “We are proud to support the Support 21 Act, which will help raise awareness of the negative consequences that underage drinking has on youth and communities, and strengthen enforcement efforts.”

The Support 21 Act of 2009 builds upon earlier national underage drinking legislation authored by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard—the STOP Underage Drinking Act (P.L. 109-422), which was signed into law in December of 2006.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard called the bill crucial to protecting the health and well-being of our young people. “The risks of serious alcohol-related problems are reduced by 70 percent when a young person delays drinking alcohol until the age of 21. We can no longer afford to address alcohol dependence exclusively as a disease of middle age. Our legislation addresses this critical public health challenge to better ensure a safer and more productive future for our children,” she said in a press release.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard has been a longtime supporter of community anti-drug coalitions and CADCA. In 2004, CADCA presented her with its Congressional Leadership Award, which recognizes members of Congress that help ensure that substance abuse prevention, treatment, research and recovery programs remain a top priority in Congress.

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