Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, last week, I introduced H.R. 498, to reauthorize the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act, better known as the STOP Act.
The original STOP Act passed with bipartisan support in 2006. It was based on the recommendations of the 2003 Institute of Medicine report, which outlined the extent of the underage drinking problem in the United States. At that time, 20 percent of eighth graders, 42 percent of 10th graders, and 58 percent of 12th graders reported being drunk in their lifetimes.
Designed to address this public health crisis, the STOP Act established an interagency committee to coordinate Federal efforts to reduce and ultimately prevent underage drinking.
The law financed public health research on underage drinking, and it authorized a national media campaign to educate parents about the dangers of consuming alcohol before the age of 21.
The STOP Act also provided grants to communities throughout the country to enhance their underage drinking prevention efforts. As a result of this comprehensive approach, we have seen positive results in both national statistics and in communities across America.
According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future survey, the lifetime use of alcohol by 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders is at the lowest level in years. Unfortunately, there is more that needs to be done.
Despite the progress we have made, alcohol continues to be the number one drug of choice among youth, and the consequences are devastating.
In addition to costing society over $62 billion a year, underage drinking by youths 15-20 years of age is a major cause of homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents. And it results in the deaths of approximately 5,000 youths every year. Adding to this tragedy is the fact that all of these consequences are preventable. This makes reauthorization of the STOP Act even more necessary.
H.R. 498 continues the successful programs of the original STOP Act and adds a grant program to train pediatric health care providers on the best practices for screening and treating substance abuse among youth.
Mr. Speaker, the reauthorization of the STOP Act is an important bipartisan effort to help prevent the needless suffering and costs associated with underage drinking. I urge my colleagues to join me and my original cosponsors, Congressman Frank Wolf and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, by cosponsoring the STOP reauthorization bill, H.R. 498, so we can continue to move forward in our efforts to address this public health crisis affecting our children.