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Mormonism Means Utah's Minors Drink the Least

Utah has the nation's lowest underage drinking rate. But which state has the highest?


One of Utah's many Mormon churches.
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By Valerie Tejeda


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Utah boasts the country's lowest percentage of underage drinkers, a new survey confirms; not incidentally, it's also home to the highest percentage of Mormons. An estimated 63% of Utahns are reportedly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making Utah the most religiously homogeneous state—and the religion prohibits drinking. Based on data compiled by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2010, only 14.3% of Utah residents aged 12-20 had drunk alcohol in the prior month—a rate far below the national underage average of 26.6%. Of those Utah minors who did drink, only 3% said they'd bought the liquor themselves. Tennessee, where many counties remain "dry," has the second lowest drinking rate in the country. Ranking highest was Vermont, the state of Bill W.'s birth: a whopping 37% of minors there reported alcohol consumption over the past month. “Underage drinking should not be a normal part of growing up,” says Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of SAMHSA, which released the survey. “Even though drinking is often glamorized, the truth is that underage drinking can lead to poor academic performance, sexual assault, injury, and even death.” 

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