Pubdate: Sun, 22 May 2005
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2005 Burlington Free Press
Author: Nancy Lynch
Cited: Office of National Drug Control Policy
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (ONDCP Media Campaign)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)


The Office of National Drug Control Policy recently began a new
campaign to educate parents about the dangers of teen marijuana use.
While I applaud the effort to encourage children to remain drug-free,
I am appalled by the underlying messages of the ads, which are running
in the nation's largest newspapers. One ad begins, "Quite a few people
think that smoking pot is less likely to cause cancer than a regular
cigarette. You may have even heard some parents say they'd rather
their kids smoked a little pot than get hooked on cigarettes. Wrong,
and wrong again."

This ad deliberately downplays the mountain of evidence linking
cigarettes, nicotine addiction and cancer. We can all agree that
responsible parents do not want their kids smoking either marijuana or
cigarettes, but for the government to run an anti-marijuana campaign
with a borderline pro-tobacco message undercuts the efforts to reduce
and prevent teen smoking overall.

This type of slick and misleading advertising may be commonplace in
corporate marketing, but has no place in government-sponsored public
health campaigns. As a government agency existing solely to reduce
drug use, the Office of National Drug Control Policy should be
scrupulous with their facts. Instead, their ads present a tacit
preference, if not approval, for a substance inextricably linked with
physical addiction, disease and death in order to oppose the use of
marijuana, which is not physically addictive, cancer-causing or fatal.

I know we have alarming rates of marijuana use among teens in Vermont
and it is time for a different approach, but lying and misleading will
never be acceptable teaching tools or best practices.



The writer is the statewide organizer of the Vermont Marijuana Policy Project. 
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