Pubdate: Tue, 22 Nov 2005
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Copyright: 2005 The Des Moines Register.
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The spots are intended to show that the human toll of the drug 
reaches beyond just the user.

Methamphetamine fighters in Iowa who successfully campaigned for 
restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter cold medicines announced 
Monday that they will take their message directly to the public.

Federal and state officials, with the support of Gov. Tom Vilsack, 
rolled out a series of television advertisements Monday that aim to 
convey the human toll of the drug not only on users, but their 
children and neighbors.

In one of the 30-second ads, a little girl in an apartment plays with 
blocks, unaware that she is being exposed to noxious vapors from a 
meth lab in an apartment below. "Jamie's body is deteriorating," says 
the narrator. "And she doesn't even know it. Who has the drug problem now?"

Steve Pasierb, president of the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free 
America, called the ad campaign "a new front" in a drug war that has 
been "marginalized" by much of the American public. Only one state 
reported more discoveries of meth-related laboratories in 2004 than 
Iowa, according to federal officials.

"We're taking this tack because the meth issue truly is complex. It 
really is different than a lot of other drug issues America deals 
with," Pasierb said.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that contains 
pseudoephedrine, a common ingredient of cold medicines that can be 
extracted and cooked for smoking, snorting, injecting or eating. The 
manufacturing process is fairly easy, but dangerous: the mix of 
ingredients is highly toxic and flammable, often causing explosions 
that spread chemicals into the air.

The Iowa Legislature passed stiff laws last year that put most 
pseudoephedrine behind the counter, limited the quantities that could 
be purchased and required buyers to present photo identification. So 
far, state officials have reported a dramatic reduction in the number 
of lab discoveries.

But anti-drug crusaders want to stem the demand for meth as well. 
Officials appealed Monday to television stations in 23 cities to run 
the new ads, free of charge, as public-service announcements.

Tonya Parks, a recovering 32-year-old meth addict from Des Moines' 
east side, spoke at Monday's news conference. "It is available 
everywhere, from people I didn't even know," she said.

Parks said she finally checked herself into a treatment facility last 
July, four months after she gave birth to a daughter who later tested 
positive for the drug. Parks lost custody of the girl, but has since 
won her back and has been clean for nearly six months.

"I gave my daughter life," Parks said, "but she saved mine."

Vilsack used Monday's news conference to bolster a separate campaign 
to raise the state's cigarette tax. The governor called cigarettes an 
"entry drug" for youngsters who later seek out greater highs like 
those provided by meth.

"It's important for the Legislature to understand that if the cost of 
that product is increased, fewer young people are going to smoke. And 
if fewer young people smoke, fewer young people are going to take the 
next step to alcohol and meth," he said.

After the news conference, Vilsack clarified that meth use was not 
the only reason to support a cigarette tax. "All of it relates to 
health care," he said.

The governor proposed an 80-cent-a-pack tax earlier this year to 
provide more money for health care services for the poor. The 
proposal failed, but Vilsack has since renewed his push for the tax.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman