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S.C. has fewer young drinkers than other states

A national health group said that more than a fourth of Americans who are not of legal drinking age still consume alcoholic beverages, according to its latest report. South Carolina's young people drank alcohol at a lower percentage than the national average, however.

According to the study, 26.6 percent of people ages 12 to 20 said they were involved in underage drinking in the month prior to the survey. Additionally, nearly 9 percent of them said they bought the alcohol for themselves on their most recent occasion to drink. Laws allow the purchase and consumption of alcohol in all 50 states and the District of Columbia only by people who are 21 or older.

While the group acknowledged that the number of underage drinkers had dropped in recent years, mostly among those 17 and younger, the group's administrator said too many young people continue to drink. Calling it a "serious and persistent public health problem," he said drinking is a danger to the younger age groups. He said that drinking among the under-21 set can result in difficulties with academics, as well as serious health issues, such as injuries, sexual assault or death.

The report broke out the states with both the highest and lowest underage drinking and alcohol purchase rates. South Carolina and other southern states ranked in the group with the lowest rates of underage drinking.

The group that conducted the study lists prevention of substance abuse as its main goal. It supports many programs aimed at stopping drinking among those too young. Reducing the number of young people who drink will reduce the number of underage drunk drivers, saving lives at the same time. Any intervention programs that can stop drinking among teens and young adults will improve their health and the safety of anyone they come in contact with.

Source: SAMHSA, "Underage Drinking Still Serious Problem in All States According to New National Report," Nov. 20, 2012

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