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Embargoed Until:
April 01, 2004
For more information contact:
Maria Iacobo
213/240-8144 or 213/990-7107/pager

Health Department Report Finds Underage Drinking Common; Students Stage Effort to Reduce Drinking During Spring Break

LOS ANGELES – Officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services report that approximately four in ten of the county’s underage adults (18-20 years) and school teenagers (14 to 17 years) reported consuming at least one alcoholic drink in the past month (39 and 42 percent respectively). Binge drinking was reported by 18 percent of underage adults and 20 percent of teens. “There are many serious consequences of underage alcohol use,” said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “One in five traffic crashes of 16 to 20 year olds involve alcohol.” Underage drinking rates are highest among White and Latino teens and underage adults and lowest among Asian Pacific Island teens and African Americans 18 to 20 year olds. “Alcohol availability is part of the problem. When asked where they obtained their alcohol, three-fourths of underage adult drinkers indicated that they obtained alcohol at home or at other private residences and 64 percent reported that they were given alcohol by an adult 21 years of age or older. One in four underage drinkers reported that they purchased alcohol at a bar, club or restaurant,” said Fielding. The Department of Health Services is releasing these data in conjunction with the “Spring Break-Down 2004” an event co-sponsored by Students Against Substance Abuse at East Los Angeles College. “It is wonderful that these students have taken this opportunity to sponsor an event to publicize the serious problem of underage drinking,” said Patrick Ogawa, M.A., Director of the county’s Alcohol and Drug Program Administration (ADPA). ADPA is co-sponsoring the Spring Break –Down Event as a part of National Public Health Week: April 5-11, 2004. This year’s theme: “Eliminating Health Disparities: Communities Moving from Statistics to Solutions.” For detailed information about National Public Health Week visit http://www.apha.org/nphw This year Spring Break-DOWN 2004 is co-sponsored by the Students Against Substance Abuse (SASA) of East Los Angeles College (ELAC) in partnership with the Alcohol and Drug Program Administration, San Fernando Valley Partnership, the Partnership for Drug Free America, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The media and forum event is scheduled as follows:

DATE: Thursday, April 1, 2004 TIME: 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. LOCATION: East Los Angeles College 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez Monterey Park, California 91754