WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Raymond Scalettar, former Chair of the American Medical Association, is urging parents to mark “April – Alcohol Awareness Month” by having frank, meaningful discussions with their teenagers about the dangers of underage alcohol consumption. “Study after study has shown that parents are one of the most powerful deterrents to underage drinking,” said Dr. Scalettar. “While parents may think they have no impact on their teens’ behavior, teenagers consistently rank their parents as the most influential factor in their decisions about alcohol consumption.” Scalettar recommended that parents begin discussions about underage drinking before children are in middle school and regularly continue the dialogue into their high school and college years. He said it is critical that parents have these conversations over and over because youth will encounter new situations as they get older. “First and foremost, parents should clearly convey their expectations to their children, including that there will be zero tolerance for illegal consumption, and stress the dangers of driving while intoxicated, no matter if they or someone else is the driver,” he said. “Parents should let their children know that they are available to participate in the challenges that confront them, particularly relating to alcohol and to help them identify ways to avoid and refuse alcohol consumption as well as ways to cope with stress and academic demands. They have to get the message across to their children that it is not ‘cool’ to drink alcohol underage. It is also illegal and potentially dangerous to themselves and others.” Scalettar stressed that parents who choose to drink should serve as positive role models by drinking sensibly and in moderation so that, when their teenagers are of legal drinking age, they know what is appropriate and responsible behavior if they choose to drink. Finally, he said, parents should be cognizant that research shows that the majority of youth who drink obtain alcohol primarily through non-commercial sources such as friends, parents, and other adults. In every state it is illegal for adults to knowingly and unlawfully provide alcohol to individuals under the age of 21. Dr. Scalettar said parents can get additional information on addressing underage drinking from The Century Council, www.centurycouncil.org, a not-for-profit organization funded by the distilled spirits industry which is dedicated to fighting underage drinking and drunk driving. Dr. Scalettar is an advisor to the Distilled Spirits Council and can be reached for interviews at (202) 682-8840.