Saturday, February 10, 2007

$1.2 billion later: National Youth Anti-Drug Media campaign ineffective, harmful

The biggest national anti-drug media campaign ever launched in the U.S. spent more than $1.2 billion from 1998 through 2004 without measurable effect on youth drug use, according to a report to Congress by the Government Accounting Office (GAO). Source.

In some subgroups, notably young teens (12-13 year olds) and girls of any age who had not been using drugs, the campaign appears to have increased the initiation of drug use because it made drug use by peers seem more familiar and acceptable, the GAO concluded.

A major aim of the campaign, motivating parents to monitor their children's drug use, the GAO found, met with no significant results, and even when the campaign affected parental behavior, there was no evidence of corresponding changes in the attitudes or behavior of children.

Although alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among teens has been declining, the GAO report found no causal relationship between the decline and the media campaign.

The campaign is conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a branch of the Bush White House. Despite (or because?) of the campaign's negative results, President Bush has asked Congress for $120 million for the campaign for 2007, an increase of $21 million over last year. ONDCP criticized the GAO report's methods and conclusions.

(Thanks for the lead to this item to the Kujan blog.)

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