WASHINGTON — A major Federal study released today reported that underage drinking rates among 8th, 10th and 12th graders are at their lowest levels since the study’s inception in 1975, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, jointly released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan, the proportion of students reporting binge drinking at least once in the two weeks prior to the survey also fell in all three grades in 2011.

The University of Michigan stated, “alcohol use – and, importantly, occasions of heavy drinking – continued a long-term gradual decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011.”

Additionally it noted, “all grades showed a further drop in all measures of alcohol use – lifetime, annual, 30-day, daily and 5+ drinks on one or more occasions during the prior two weeks…all of these statistics are at their historic lows over the life of the study.”

“This is excellent news but much more needs to be done, and we must not become complacent as a society. Parents, industry and the entire community working together can continue to make a difference,” said Dr. Peter Cressy, President of the Distilled Spirits Council and a former college president.

Cressy noted that the spirits industry has been a part of this progress through the programs of The Century Council and other educational initiatives, which provide parents with tools to talk to their children about alcohol.

DISCUS Senior Vice President Frank Coleman added, “It’s past time for industry critics to recognize the substantial progress that has been made in fighting underage drinking, particularly by groups such as The Century Council. Further, it is worth noting that this comes on the heels of last week’s encouraging U.S. government statistics showing that drunk driving fatalities declined 4.9 percent in 2010. All this shows that working together in partnership is producing real progress and should cause industry critics to seriously reassess their misguided population-based approaches, such as advertising bans and higher taxes.”

Conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future has tracked substance abuse among American high school students for 37 years. In 2011, approximately 46,773 students, in grades 8, 10 and 12 representing 400 secondary schools across the country, participated in the survey.

Monitoring the Future data on 30 day alcohol consumption/binge drinking rates

Additional 2011 Monitoring the Future Tables