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March 17, 1993

Underage Drinking

Author Affiliations

Libertyville, Ill

JAMA. 1993;269(11):1385. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500110053026

To the Editor.  —Fewer teenagers are now drinking and they are drinking less. Yet that was not apparent from a recent report in JAMA.1 The report stated, rightly, that illegal underage drinking is a health issue that deserves to be addressed by physicians. It quoted alcohol usage figures from a University of Michigan annual survey to underscore its point.2 However, while alcohol usage remains widespread, the report failed to note that the University of Michigan survey actually shows that underage drinking is less of a problem now than before. This is not just a statistical blip; there has been a continuous declining trend for the past decade.According to the Michigan survey, the percentage of adolescents who have ever taken a single drink dropped 1.5% from 89.5% in 1990 to 88.0% in 1991. The corresponding 1980 figure was 93.2%. The percentage who have used alcohol in the past