Pubdate: Mon, 27 Dec 2004
Source: Chillicothe Gazette (OH)
Copyright: 2004 Chillicothe Gazette


Two recent surveys -- one national and one local -- show drug use is again
declining among teenagers.

The Monitoring the Future Survey found there has been a 17 percent decline
in drug use nationally by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students from 2001 to
2004. This finding translates into 600,000 fewer teens using drugs now than
in 2001.

Our own local survey done by the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater
Cincinnati has shown similar results between 2000 and 2004. During this
four-year period, beer use is down 37 percent, cigarette use decreased 32
percent and marijuana use decreased 19 percent.

In fact, in part due to the work of the coalition, use of marijuana, beer
and cigarettes by young people in our area is below state and national
averages. This is very encouraging news for Southern Ohio parents,
teenagers, teachers, and everyone who cares about the welfare of our kids.

Fewer teens are using drugs here and across the country because of the
deliberate and serious messages they have received about the dangers of
drugs from their parents and through prevention efforts such as the National
Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Having fewer youths use drugs is important
because we know that if young people can abstain from drugs before they
graduate from high school, they are much less likely to use and have
problems with them later.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign is an innovative public-private
partnership that pushes back against the popular culture that glamorizes or
promotes drug, alcohol and tobacco use among teens. I helped initiate the
program years ago, and have been its champion in Congress because I believe
it can change attitudes, which then changes behavior.

I was pleased that in 2002 the Media Campaign was reworked to produce even
harder-hitting ads that have focused on the harm of marijuana. The Media
Campaign has been a powerful tool in this effort to educate Americans,
particularly teens, on the serious threat marijuana poses. And the results
have been excellent.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition, which I founded eight years ago, is a
comprehensive, long-term effort to mobilize every sector of the 10-county
area around Cincinnati to take an active role in preventing substance abuse.
It brings local community organizations together with business leaders,
parents, teens, clergy, law enforcement and school officials to implement
anti-drug initiatives, and has become a model for dozens of communities

I believe it is crucial communities around the country are organized to
respond to their local drug problems in a comprehensive and coordinated
manner. The Drug Free Communities Program recognizes federal anti-drug
resources must be invested at the community level with those who have the
most power to reduce the demand for drugs -- parents, teachers, business
leaders, the media, religious leaders, law enforcement officials, youth and
others. To get involved in the Coalition or learn more about its work, call
(513) 751-8000, or check out its website at

As part of its efforts, the Coalition helps run an extensive local media
campaign through television, radio and print that adds to the national
campaign. In fact, the local TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers in
southwest Ohio have generously donated more than $1 million in anti-drug ads
on an annual basis for the last three years.

We believe this is the most aggressive anti-drug media campaign in the
country, and it is working to help keep kids off drugs. Based on our survey,
young people who have seen anti-drug ads on a regular basis are 20 percent
less likely to use drugs. They are also 16 percent less likely to use
tobacco and 19 percent less likely to use alcohol.

These results locally, and now nationally, indicate prevention and education
tools such as the media campaign work to create safer neighborhoods and a
better future for our young people.

* Write Rep. Rob Portman at 8044 Montgomery Road, Room 540, Cincinnati,
Ohio, 45236, call (800) 784-6366 or e-mail him at  
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh