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In 2011, 51% of adults aged 18 years and over were current regular drinkers, 14% were current infrequent drinkers, 6% were former regular drinkers, 8% were former infrequent drinkers, and 21% were lifetime abstainers. Nearly sixty percent of men were current regular drinkers compared with nearly 44% of women. Men were also more likely to be former regular drinkers than women. Women were more likely to be current or former infrequent drinkers or lifetime abstainers than men. As age increased, the percentage of adults who were current regular drinkers decreased. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_252.pdf)
(Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health, title it: 2002 Drinking Among Youth)
National Survey on Drug Use and Health, title it: 2002
About 17.6 million Americans are problem drinkers. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports as of Feb, 2011 that alcohol is to blame for 2.5 million deaths annually. Alcohol is the leading risk factor in deaths of males aged 15-59. Relatively few alcohol abusers receive treatment. Most alcoholics in the U.S. seeking treatment are in the 26-34 age group. Alcohol dependence and abuse costs the U.S. $220 billion a year. Half a million U.S. children aged 9 to 12 are addicted to alcohol. In 2002, 2.6 million binge drinkers were between the ages of 12 and 17. Alcohol is the drug most frequently used by 12 to 17 year-olds. And 6.5 million minors in the U.S. live with an alcoholic mother or father. There are 8.1 million adult alcoholics in the U.S. and 13.8 million have serious issues with it. (http://www.compassinterventions.com/alcohol-drug-statistics.html)
Although all 50 states prohibit the sale of alcohol to those under 21, the survey found that two thirds of teens have no problem obtaining alcohol either by using false identification or by buying at stores that don't check for age. One third of the teens in the sample reported that they had accepted rides from people who had been drinking.
Another survey reported that the teen-age drinking problem has been compounded by fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages. Two out of three teenagers surveyed could not distinguish these alcoholic beverages from nonalcoholic drinks in stores. While beer and wine industry officials insist that they are not interested in selling their products to teenagers, the survey discovered that teenagers have become a significant portion of the market for these products—accounting for 35 percent of the sales of wine coolers, or 31 million gallons. In addition, teenagers drink 1.1 billion cans of beer each year. (Isikoff, Michael, "Millions of teens drinking," The Washington Post, June 1991.)
Former surgeon general C. Everett Koop would like to see a ban on alcohol advertising (along with the ban on cigarette advertising) and 56 percent of Americans agree with him. A person's desire to ban advertising increases with age; and 81 percent of Americans would like to see more ads that encourage responsible drinking.
The tab for alcohol use doesn't end there. More than $2 billion a year - a sizable chunk of the over $90 billion the industry takes in annually - goes to prime the advertising and promotion pump and keep drinkers' money flowing freely. Problem drinkers and young people are the primary targets of these advertisers.
Of course, industry spokespeople disagree with this claim. Over and over again, their public statements assert that they are not trying to create new or heavier drinkers. Instead, they say they only want people who already drink to switch to another brand and to drink it in moderation. However, the most basic analysis of alcohol advertising reveals an emphasis on both recruiting new, young users and pushing heavy consumption of their products. ("Deadly Persuasion: 7 Myths Alcohol Advertisers Want You to Believe," by Jean Kilbourne, Center for Media Literacy)