Ads Drive Down US Teen Drug Use

23 December 2004

America's anti-drugs media campaign targeting teenagers is having some success, it is claimed.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy says the ads, created by Foote Cone & Belding in New York, have contributed to "600,000 fewer teens using drugs than there were in 2001".

Adds head of the ONDCPJohn Walters: "The media campaign is an important tool to help shape attitudes ... we want to make sure that it's not a fire drill but a sustained responsibility in a civilised society."

He is lobbying for an increase in funding after Congress slashed campaign cash by nearly a third this year, amid concerns as to its effectiveness.

Walters believes advertising is an important element in the anti-drugs mix, which includes law enforcement and rehabilitation for users.

The ongoing survey which has thrown up the positive results is the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Monitoring the Future study. It shows youngsters' perceptions of marijuana have changed significantly since the ad campaign highlighted the drug's dangers.

Says Lloyd Johnston of Michigan University and the survey's main researcher: "Quite possibly the media campaign aimed at marijuana use has been having its intended effect. I am not aware of any other social influence process that could explain these changes in how young people view marijuana."

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff