Federal data show that 27.6 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds in the U.S. drank alcohol during the past month, with underage drinking especially prevalent in New England and the upper Midwest, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Past-month underage-drinking rates were highest in North Dakota (40.6 percent) and Vermont (40.4 percent), and lowest in Utah (13.7 percent).
Researchers found that 8.6 percent of underage drinkers were able to purchase their own alcohol, including 18.8 percent of youths in Louisiana and the District of Columbia. Current underage drinkers in Alaska (3.1 percent) and New Mexico (3.7 percent) were the least likely to report buying their own booze.
The analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (PDF) was released as federal officials and the Ad Council jointly announced a new public-service ad campaign aimed at preventing underage drinking. The ads encourage parents to talk to their 11- to 15-year-old children about drinking.