National Underage Drinking Findings Carded

Feb 28, 2002

A major substance abuse think tank acknowledged that its alarming claim — that youths ages 12 to 20 consume 25 percent of all alcohol in the United States — was based on a flawed analysis, but said the figure would hold up if other factors are added. In a page-one article, The New York Times reports that former Carter Administration HEW Secretary Joseph Califano and his group, Columbia University’s Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse (CASA) now admit that they distorted data to make unsupportable claims. The alcohol industry challenged the survey’s conclusion calling their consumption estimate “a flawed interpretation of the data and a massive error in fact.”

The federal agency whose survey was used for the think tank’s report studied
the data at’s request and agreed the consumption figure was actually
11.4 percent. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse acknowledged
late Tuesday that due to an oversight it had not made a necessary adjustment
when analyzing data from the 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. The
report is online at

Moderator Comment: Did the follow-up reporting on
the mistakes made by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse in
reporting the study’s finding match the high profile of the original reports?

See the RetailWire news report and discussion Underage
College Drinking Lessens as Kids Start Younger
for further context on this subject.
Anderson – Moderator

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