The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

November 17, 2013

Under age, Under arrest

— Some startling statistics:

• More than 26 percent of people ages 12 to 20 reported consuming alcohol in the past month.

• By age 15, half of teens have had at least one drink.

• By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least one drink.

These figures come from nationwide student surveys and deserve the attention of everyone.

They’ve caught the attention of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which recently launched an initiative to educate students, parents — everyone — about underage drinking.

It’s called “Under Age, Under Arrest” and shows the dangers and costs of this problem. Visit www.underage-underarrest.com.

There is also another problem that seems to be growing among young people: Binge drinking.

More statistics:

• Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive impaired.

• About 90 percent of alcohol consumed by those under the age of 21 (in other words, illegally) is in the form of binge drinks.

• In Alabama, 41 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds reports binge drinking.

• Among college students, 60.8 percent nationwide are drinkers and 39 percent are binge drinkers.

According to the ABC Board, a recent study put the price tag to Alabamians for underage and binge drinking in the state at just more than $1 billion a year.

Unfortunately, there is also a human cost with thousands of lives lost and ruined each year because of underage and binge drinking.

The ABC Board kicked off the campaign Nov. 6 at Prattville High School and ABC Board Administrator Mac Gipson said he wants to “take this around the state.”

“As the state (ABC) agency, we see it as our responsibility to do what we can to police and discourage this form of irresponsible drinking.”

And, as parents and the community, it is our responsibility.

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