SAMHSA, Ad Council launch campaign to stop underage drinking

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Ad Council have launched an integrated campaign encouraging parents to talk to their children at an early age about drinking.

The effort, created by ad agency Deutsch, began March 25. It includes a Web site, online video, social media, display and TV ads.

The campaign targets parents of children ages 11 to 15, with an emphasis on parents of middle-school students who have not yet started drinking. Its goal is to increase communication between parents and children about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

The ads encourage consumers to visit the Web site, which gives parents tips on how to talk to their kids about the subject.

In addition, SAMHSA and the Ad Council will run PSAs designed to reach parents in the Hispanic, Chinese and American Indian communities.

SAMHSA and the Ad Council released the campaign before April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month. The effort is part of the Surgeon General’s “Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which includes data from 2006 to 2008, alcohol is the most widely abused substance among America’s youth. It also contributes to the three leading causes of death among 12- to 20-year-olds — unintentional injury, homicide and suicide, according to the study. The report also found that those who start drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to have alcohol problems as adults than those who start drinking at age 21 or older. Twenty-seven percent of young adults ages 12-to-20 drank alcohol in the past month, according to the report.

The Ad Council and SAMHSA first launched a national underage drinking prevention campaign in November 2005. Last December, the Ad Council teamed with the US Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update their long-running drunk driving prevention effort. The revamped campaign specifically targeted women and used the tagline, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Representatives from the Ad Council and SAMHSA could not be reached for comment by press time.

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