What? Our Nation's War on Drugs? Hello?

What? Our Nation's War on Drugs? Hello?
Posted by CN Staff on May 29, 2002 at 07:35:10 PT
By Jon Carroll
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 
Turns out that one of the programs that's part of the government's war on drugs is something called the National Drug Control Strategy, the goal of which is to "educate and enable America's youth to reject illegal drugs as well as alcohol and tobacco." One of the objectives of this strategy, which costs about $929 million a year, financed mostly by taxpayers, is to "pursue a vigorous advertising and public communications program dealing with the dangers of drug use by youth." 
Being a government program, it is subject to periodic evaluation. One such evaluation was recently concluded by Westat, a private research and data collecting service, together with the Annenberg School of Communication. The quotes above are from that evaluation. Here's the key finding: "Thus far there is little evidence of direct Campaign effects on youth. There is no statistically significant change in marijuana use or in beliefs and attitudes about marijuana use, and no tendency for those reporting more exposure to Campaign messages to hold more desirable beliefs." A shorter way to say that would be: It doesn't work. The money was wasted. There are, need I say, no plans to shut down the program as a result of this report. The entire War on Drugs is not really about stopping drug use; it's about being seen to stop drug use. It's about image. The use of psychoactive substances by humans is older than history; humans have always wanted to get loaded. There are healthy and less healthy ways of doing that, but the War on Drugs is not about health, or it would right now be spending all its energies trying to ban alcohol and tobacco. Right now, the best anti-alcohol campaign on television is "Cops," whose eternal message is "booze makes you stupid." Imagine the abuse of drugs by young people is a problem with many causes. A lot of these causes are the downside we pay for our modern life -- boredom, fractured families, the lure of mass communications, the wonders of modern chemistry. It's part of a system, and it's very very difficult to use the system against itself. Dedicated cultural revolutionaries have tried to hack the mass media, and the results have been spotty and inconclusive. You wanna fix it, change the system. If you can't do that, move. None of this is rocket science. Look at it this way. If your government came up with a series of ads that said, in one way or another, "don't eat cookies," would that discourage you from eating cookies? I don't think so. Illegal drugs are already, well, illegal -- if the threat of jail time doesn't work as an inhibiting device, what chance does a TV ad have? Snipped:Complete Article: Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Author: Jon CarrollPublished: Wednesday, May 29, 2002 Copyright: 2002 Hearst Communications Inc. Contact: letters sfchronicle.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Crossfire: Do Drug Ads Work? Tax Dollars on Drugs Story for the Media - Don't Do Drug Ads Drug Czar Says Ad Campaign has Flopped 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment