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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
foundations. In the committee’s view, however, responsibility for reducing underage demand for alcohol is much more widely dispersed. Alcohol producers and advertisers have a special responsibility to resist marketing initiatives whose effects may be to stimulate or reinforce youthful desires to drink. Many alcohol companies have accepted the responsibility to support prevention initiatives designed to counteract the strong commercial forces tending to encourage underage drinking, and the committee makes several recommendations to build on this foundation. Responsibility for reducing underage demand for alcohol also rests with the entertainment media who command so much of the time and attention of the nation’s youth—these media exposures offer opportunities either to stimulate or reinforce youthful demand for alcohol or to reduce it. At a local level, schools, colleges and universities, healthcare providers, and other organizations are in a position to influence the drinking habits of young people; the good will and energies of individuals and community organizations need to be more effectively harnessed. Table 5-1 summarizes the collective responsibilities of the full array of individuals and organizations in a position to reduce underage drinking.
Within this broad framework the committee has identified ten core components of the proposed strategy to reduce underage drinking:
a national media campaign designed to animate and sustain a broad, deep, societal commitment to reduce underage drinking, to muster support for actions aiming to reduce underage drinking, and to encourage parents and other adults to refrain from conduct tending to encourage or facilitate underage drinking (see Chapter 6);
a meaningful commitment by the alcohol industry to contribute to this effort by helping to establish and fund an independent, nonprofit organization to support programs to reduce underage drinking (see Chapter 7);
self-restraint in marketing and strengthened self-regulation by the alcohol industry to reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising (see Chapter 7);
a meaningful commitment by the entertainment industry, especially the music recording industry, to avoid images and lyrics that tend to encourage drinking in products that are likely to be heard or viewed by predominately underage audiences (see Chapter 8);
stronger restrictions on youth access to alcohol in both commercial and noncommercial settings, and intensified enforcement of these laws by state and local governments (see Chapter 9);