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March 31, 2008

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or


Acting U.S. Surgeon General Coming to Nebraska

Dr. Galson to speak at Lincoln and Omaha community meetings April 14 & 15

Lincoln—The Acting U.S. Surgeon General will visit Nebraska in April to speak to teachers, parents, students, and others who play a role in the lives of young people about the dangers of underage drinking. He was invited by Nebraska’s First Lady, Sally Ganem, as part of a national first spouses’ initiative.

Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., will speak to community members and young people at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 14, at the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) building, located at 1800 N. 33rd St. in Lincoln.

He will visit the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus on Tuesday, April 15, as part of a community meeting being held at Strauss Performing Arts Center on the UNO campus at 1 p.m. Both events are open to the public.

Seating for the Lincoln event is limited. Those interested in attending are encouraged to reserve seats by calling NET at 402-472-7777 (in Lincoln) or 1-800-868-1868.

"We are delighted to be hosting Dr. Galson as we work to share the message that alcohol is not a harmless rite of passage for young people," Ganem said. "Parents have an important role to play in changing the culture of underage drinking. Parents set an example for acceptable behavior, and our children need to hear the message that underage drinking is not acceptable. Parents are the key to helping more of our young people choose not to drink."

"Alcohol is the most widely used and abused substance among our nation’s youth, more than tobacco or illicit drugs," Dr. Galson said. "And underage drinking contributes to violent crime, traffic accidents, burns, drowning, alcohol poisoning, addiction and dependency and suicide attempts. This is unacceptable and preventable."

According to a report on substance abuse released in February by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:

  • In 2005, more than 2 in every 5 Nebraska high school students reported drinking alcohol during the past month. The number of high school students reporting alcohol use was greater than those reporting cigarette and marijuana use combined.
  • While alcohol use and binge drinking has declined among Nebraska high school students since the early 90s, high school students in Nebraska are more likely than high school students nationally to binge drink (30 percent vs. 25 percent).
  • 17 percent of Nebraska high school students get behind the wheel after drinking, compared to 10 percent nationally.
  • Those in their late teens and early 20s are more likely to binge drink. They are also more likely to drive after drinking, to die or be injured in alcohol-related crashes, to be arrested for alcohol offenses, and to seek substance abuse treatment.

"By engaging parents and people in our communities, we can change attitudes about underage drinking," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. "Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to underage drinking."

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Editor’s Note: The report, Substance Abuse and Associated Consequences in Nebraska: An Epidemiological Profile, is available on the DHHS Web site at