Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2003
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2003 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Author: Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press Writer
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)


WASHINGTON -- If kids watch them often enough, ads warning about the 
dangers of smoking pot or taking Ecstacy can persuade them to stay away 
from drugs, according to a study released by an advocacy group Thursday. A 
survey of teens conducted for the Partnership for a Drug Free America found 
kids who see or hear anti-drug ads at least once a day are less likely to 
do drugs than youngsters who don't see or hear ads frequently. Teens who 
got a daily dose of the anti-drug message were nearly 40 percent less 
likely to try methamphetamine and about 30 percent less likely to use 
Ecstacy, the study found. When asked about marijuana, kids who said they 
saw the ads regularly were nearly 15 percent less likely to smoke pot.

The partnership produces most of the anti-drug messages for the White 
House. Among them: one featuring a young man visiting the site where his 
brother was killed by a driver under the influence of marijuana.

The difficulty is getting kids to see the ads and pay attention to them. A 
University of Pennsylvania study released last year found the ads are 
largely ignored by teens.

A spokesman for the government's drug policy office, Tom Riley, said the 
partnership changed the tone of the ads in the last year to make them 
harder-hitting and punchier. The ads also play up the negative consequences 
of drugs more, he said.

"These ads have taught millions of teens the truth that marijuana is a 
harmful drug," said Riley.

Barry McCaffrey - drug czar during the Clinton administration - said the 
anti-drug ads are having a "profound impact in a fundamental way, affecting 
not just adolescents but adults" as well - including parents, pediatricians 
and teachers. The drop in drug use proves the ads are a key part in the 
battle, he said.

After a rise in the 1990s, drug use by teens has been going down, according 
to Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the drug partnership. But he said 
advertising alone can't solve the problem. Parents who talk to their kids 
about drugs are an essential element of the equation, he said.

The study looked at surveys from more than 7,000 teenagers across the 
country in seventh through 12th grades. It was conducted on behalf of the 
drug partnership by RoperASW, a New York-based market research firm. The 
partnership, which has been creating anti-drug ads since 1987, is a 
nonprofit group of communications professionals dedicated to keeping kids 
away from drugs.
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