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Mary Easley, Surgeon General Focus on Teen Drinking (North Carolina)

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40. Mary Easley, Surgeon General Focus on Teen Drinking (North Carolina)

News Observer
September 12, 2007

Middle school students across the state will get lessons in how to analyze ads and other media messages that promote drinking, First Lady Mary Easley and the acting U.S. surgeon general announced today.

The program, developed with state funding, is designed to make middle school students more media savvy and less susceptiable to alcohol advertising. Teachers in Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Chatham schools already are using the curriculum.

Easley has long been active in efforts to raise awareness of underage drinking. Acting U.S. Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu joined her in today's news conference.

"What motivates me more than anything is tackling something that is interrupts a child's full potential," Easley said. "Alcohol does that."

The curriculum, called "Media Ready," includes 10 lessons for middle school students.

The N.C. Teacher Academy, the professional development arm of the State Board of Education, will hold a series of two-day workshops to train middle school literacy coaches and Safe and Drug Free Schools coordinators from each school district. The coaches and coordinators will in turn train teachers in their districts.

"This curriculum is effective in reducing underage drinking because it was developed by leading child clinical and developmental psychologists who are also substance abuse prevention scientists and experienced educators," Easley said.

Also today, Moritsugu is scheduled to speak as part of N.C. State University's Millennium Seminar Series, which allows NCSU students to interact with national and world leaders. Easley, who teaches in the Administrative Officers' Management Program at NCSU, coordinates the seminar series.

Moritsugu speaks at 2:30 p.m. in the Stewart Theater on campus. The presentation is open to students, faculty, staff and the public.

Moritsugu has been pushing for a reduction in underage drinking. Earlier this year, he laid out recommendations for government, schools, parents and others to prevent drinking by adolescents.

People who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol-related problem later in life, Moritsugu says. He also cites research indicating that alcohol may harm the developing adolescent brain.

While tobacco and illicit drug use among teens has been declining, underage drinking remains at high levels, according to the surgeon general's office. The 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates there are 11 million underage drinkers in the United States. Nearly 7.2 million are considered binge drinkers, and more than 2 million are classified as heavy drinkers.

Public parking for the seminar today is available in the parking deck at the corner of Cates Avenue and Jeter Drive. Stewart Theater is on the second floor of the Talley Student Center west of the Coliseum Deck.

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