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Alcohol abuse down among PA teens. But is this trend permanent?

The Pennsylvania State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup has released a new study on alcohol use among teenagers and pre-teens (between the ages of 12 and 17). The initial findings should provide comfort to parents of children in this age group. The research, which was conducted between 2010 and 2016, found the following trends:

  • Regular drinking among this age group dropped by 20 percent over this period. Only 18 percent of minors surveyed admitted to having drunk alcohol within the previous 30 days.
  • Teens were involved in 41 percent fewer drinking-related crashes in 2016 compared to 7 years earlier.
  • Members of this age group were publicly drunk or involved in a DUI (driving under the influence) offense 39 percent less often than at the beginning of the study.
  • This age group also saw a 60 percent drop in liquor law violations (which include serving alcohol to--and consumption of alcohol by--underage individuals).

While this news is encouraging, it is worth noting that the data gathered in this report was taken prior to the passing of Act 39 in the summer of 2016. The act revised Pennsylvania's liquor code and loosened restrictions on wine sales--allowing wine producers to sell and ship wine directly to residents.

Consequently, some experts have cautioned that the positive seven-year trend may not be reflective of the current state of affairs. They say that a follow-up study will be necessary to determine whether the more lenient alcohol policy has had an impact on alcohol-related behavior among minors.

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