Yesterday's historic signing into law of our nation's first comprehensive legislation on underage drinking is a significant step toward bringing this national public health crisis out of the shadows. Prior to being elected to public office, I worked for a nonprofit agency which focused on alcohol abuse. I witnessed firsthand the many devastating consequences of irresponsible drinking. That experience made me realize that, as a nation, we must no longer be complacent about underage drinking and its alarming consequences.

The STOP Act makes permanent an Ad Council national media campaign directed at parents that started last year, coordinates all federal programs and research initiatives on underage drinking, and provides grants to institutions of higher education, states and non-profit organizations to combat underage drinking in communities.  The STOP Act also supports crucial research on the health effects of underage drinking and requires the federal government to produce an annual status report on underage drinking in our country.

The STOP Act is the result of an enormous commitment to the future well-being of our children by a bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans from both chambers in Congress who successfully worked in partnership with our public health advocacy groups and the alcohol beverage industry to win passage of this landmark legislation.

When you consider the full extent of the dangers associated with drinking before the age of 21 such as car accidents, violent crime and risky sexual activity, the massive extent of this public health crisis and its tragic consequences become clear. Despite these startling facts, studies have found that most parents are unaware of the prevalence of underage drinking or the risk it poses to their children.  Through the STOP Act's hard-hitting public service ads, parents will get a strong and effective message about the dangers of underage drinking.