Monday, September 25, 2023
Distortion 1: Drug Use After Prohibition Ends
Distortion 2: Drug Use Estimates
Distortion 3: Needle Exchange
Distortion 4: Harm Reduction
Distortion 5: Methadone Treatment
Distortion 6: Emergency Room Visits
Distortion 7: Gateway
Distortion 8: Ecstasy
Distortion 9: Cannabis As Medicine
Distortion10: Young People and Drugs
Distortion 11: Marijuana Potency
Distortion 12: Cannabis and Driving
Distortion 13: US Crime Rates
Distortion 14: Cannabis and Drug Treatment
Distortion 15: People Only Smoke Pot To Get High, Whereas They Drink Alcohol To Be Sociable
Distortion 16: ONDCP's 'Open Letter on Marijuana' & the AntiDrug Media Campaign
Distortion 17: Cannabis and Drug Treatment Part II
Distortion 18: Cannabis and Mental Illness
Special: NORML's Truth Report 2005, An Analysis & Response To The Drug Czar's Open Letter About Marijuana
Special: Debunking The Myths Chronic Pain & Opiods, by Frank Fisher, MD
Distortion 19: Estimating the Size of the Illicit Drug Market
Distortion 20: Methamphetamines
Distortion 21: US Crime Rates & Arrest Rates
Distortion 22: Marijuana & Violence
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ONDCP's "Anti-Drug" Media Campaign
Just Because The Drug Czar Wants Something To Be True Doesn't Make It So
ONDCP Anti-Drug Media Campaign Ineffective And Misleading, Yet Feds Continue Spending Millions On It
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has released what may be its final evaluation of ONDCP's Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The evaluations have been conducted by Westat and the Annenberg School of Communications under a grant from NIDA. According to Advertising Age on Jan. 19, 2004 ( "Study Faults White House Anti-Drug Ads"), "A study commissioned by the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( NIDA ) has concluded that the advertising program of the White House anti-drug office has had little impact on its primary target: America's teenagers. Conducted jointly by the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Westat, a 30-year-old research firm in Rockville, Md., the analysis concluded that "there is little evidence of direct favorable [advertising] campaign effects on youth.""
The report noted "The drug office spends $150 million a year on advertising, and those expenditures have been the subject of ongoing controversy in Congress. The NIDA report covers the advertising campaign's start in September 1999 through June 2003. Entitled "Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: 2003 Report of Findings," the report issued by NIDA notes that the advertising campaigns have had a "favorable effect" on parents but not on the children, whose illicit drug use is the focus of the ads."
Copies of the evaluation, as well as previous evaluations, can be downloaded from NIDA's website at www.nida.nih.gov/despr/westat/.
The following are some pertinent quotes from the report. For more information on the ONDCP ad campaign and on other prevention efforts, see Drug War Facts: Adolescents / Education & Prevention of Substance Abuse.
"The NSPY [National Survey of Parents and Youth] did not find significant reductions in marijuana us either leading up to or
after the Marijuana campaign for youth 12 to 18 years old
between 2002 and 2003. Indeed there was evidence for an increase
in past month and past year use among the target audience of
14- to 16-year-olds, although it appears that the increase was
already in place in the last half of 2002, before the launch of
the Marijuana Initiative. It will be worthwhile to track whether
the nonsignificant decline from the second half of 2002 through
the first half of 2003 is the beginning of a true trend. There
was a significant decrease in lifetime marijuana use among youth
16 to 18 years of age from 2002 to 2003; however, since this
significant decrease was not replicated in either the
directly relevant past year or past month time periods, it
is difficult to ascribe the change to the campaign."
Two advertising executives were indicted in early January 2004 for their part in overbilling ONDCP's antidrug media campaign. The Wall Street Journal reported on Jan. 7, 2004 ( "Two Tied To Ogilvy Contract With US Are Indicted") that "A grand jury indicted one current and one former senior executive of WPP Group PLC's Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, alleging the pair worked with unidentified co-conspirators to defraud the U.S. government. The indictment also alleges the duo made false claims while working on a lucrative account for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The action surprised Madison Avenue, which largely believed the matter had been resolved after Ogilvy paid $1.8 million to settle civil charges in February 2002. At the time, Ogilvy, one of the ad industry's best-known shops, said it voluntarily withdrew $850,000 in billings to the U.S. because it lacked confidence in the documentation supporting the figure."
The two deny the charges and seem to be preparing to defend themselves. As reported by New York's Newsday on Jan. 8, 2004 ( "Top Ad Exec Quits After Charge"), "Thomas Early, 48, of Rockville Centre, and Shona Seifert, 43, of Southport, Conn., were charged with inflating billing costs related to a $137 million yearly media campaign commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Early, who had been a senior partner and finance director of the agency's Manhattan office, quit yesterday 'in order to devote his full energies to obtaining a full vindication in this matter,' according to an Ogilvy statement. Early and his attorney, Laurence Urgenson, a partner in the Washington firm Kirkland & Ellis, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Seifert, a former Ogilvy senior partner and executive group director who is now president of the Manhattan agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, said Tuesday she was 'saddened and dismayed' by the charges but is innocent. Seifert's attorney is Gregory Craig, a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly who led President Bill Clinton's impeachment defense team in 1998. Yesterday both pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, and Judge Richard Berman set their bond at $500,000 each and %25,000 in collateral. The two face one count of conspiracy and 10 counts of false claims. If convicted, they face five years in prison on each count and potentially millions of dollars in fines."
The More Things Stay The Same: ONDCP Again Launches New Ads In Super-Expensive Super Bowl As Feds Release Report Calling Anti-Drug Media Campaign A Failure
The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched a new set of ads during the 2003 Super Bowl. Like the previous year, some of the ads attempt -- and fail -- to address narcotrafficking-funded terrorism, while others focus on marijuana use. The New York Times described the ads on Jan. 28, 2003 ( "Super Buildup, But Unfulfilled Expectations"), reporting that "One commercial, set on a subway, borrows liberally from the films 'Ghost' and 'Sixth Sense' to assert that anyone who buys drugs can fuel the terror wreaked worldwide by drug dealers. If that is not clear enough, the theme pounds in the message: 'Drug money supports terrible things.' As does antidrug money, apparently. Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, part of WPP. In a second spot, co-sponsored with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, a teenage girl's pregnancy is attributed to her smoking marijuana. Don't hold your breath waiting for the Super Bowl ad that blames beer binges for such pregnancies. Agency: McCann-Erickson Worldwide Advertising, part of Interpublic."
The ad placement cost taxpayers more than $4 million, according to Fox News on Jan. 24, 2003 ( "White House Launches Super Bowl Anti-Drug Ads").
The ads debuted mere days after ONDCP and NIDA released the Fifth Semiannual Evaluation of the Anti-Drug Media Campaign. The Evaluation -- which was actually published in November 2002 though it was not made available until Jan. 23, 2003 -- found no change from earlier reports which found little or no positive campaign effects, and possible negative impacts among some youth.
Below are several quotes from the Fifth Evaluation. The chapters
from which most of them are drawn are available online through
the following links:
"There is no statistically significant change for the
full 12- to 18-year-old sample in intentions to use marijuana
once or twice over the five waves of measurement among prior
nonusers. There is, however, a small trend, unfavorable to the
Campaign, on marijuana intentions among 14- to 18-year-old
nonusers. The downward trend appears to be statistically
equivalent among both the 14- to 15-year-olds and 16- to
18-year-olds." (p. 5-8)
Source for the above: Hornik, Robert, et al.,
'Evaluation of the
National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign: Fifth Semi-Annual
Report of Findings,' Delivered to: National Institute
on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Department of
Health and Human Services By: Westat & the Annenberg
School for Communication, Contract No.: N01DA-8-5063,
November 2002, available on the web from
The National Institute on Drug Abuse released the Fourth Semi-Annual Evaluation of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign in mid-June 2002. The report presents the results of an ongoing analysis of the ONDCP-coordinated anti-drug advertising campaign. Copies of the evaluation, and of the previous reports, can be downloaded from http://www.nida.nih.gov/despr/westat/index.html . Researchers were able to find no positive results for youth, and in fact found some negative results. According to the Executive Summary , "There is little evidence of direct favorable Campaign effects on youth. There is no statistically significant decline in marijuana use or improvements in beliefs and attitudes about marijuana use between 2000 and 2001, and no tendency for those reporting more exposure to Campaign messages to hold more desirable beliefs. For some outcomes, and for some subgroups of respondents, analysis raises the possibility that those with more exposure to the specific Campaign ads at the start of Phase III of the Campaign had less favorable outcomes over the following 18 months. This was true for the youth respondents who were nonusers and aged 10 to 12 at the start of this phase, with regard to their intentions to use marijuana in the future and for all youth 12 to 18 for their perceived social norms about marijuana use. Girls with the highest exposure to Campaign ads at the start were more likely than less exposed girls to initiate marijuana use. This effect was not seen for boys. This unfavorable association with initiation was also significant for the youngest respondents and for the low risk respondents. Further analysis is required before any firm conclusion can be reached to support these unlikely outcomes."
In addition, the media campaign's National Survey of Parents and Youth (NSPY) found that some young people exposed to the campaign may have increased their marijuana use. According to the summary, "NSPY also examined rates of change in three other measures of marijuana use - ever use, regular use (almost every month), and use in the previous 30 days. For all ages and for all of those measures, use was unchanging between 2000 and 2001, with two exceptions. Reports of regular use and last 30 days use, while still rare, were significantly increasing among youth who were 14- to 15-years-old. Reports of past month use increased from 3.6% to 7.2%, and regular use (defined as use every month or almost every month) increased from 2.2% to 5.4%."
Some positive results regarding parental behaviors were noted in the survey, though they were of questionable significant. "Overall, there are trends and cross-sectional associations consistent with Campaign effects on parent outcomes, including talking behavior and cognitions, and monitoring cognitions. These associations are most consistent for fathers. The longitudinal data do not as yet provide the hoped for additional evidence to rule out reverse causation as an explanation for the observed cross-sectional associations. Also, the evidence does not as yet support an effect of parent exposure on youth behavior." Ultimately, "There was no cross-sectional associational evidence for any group that parent exposure was associated with lower marijuana consumption among youth."
Other data in the evaluation
raises questions about the parental responses. According to
A full copy of the report can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here, or it can be downloaded in chunks from this webpage. Also, a copy of the most recent National Survey of Parents and Youth can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.
Background: As noted in the evaluation, "Under the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Act of 1998, Congress approved funding (P.L. 105-61) for 'a national media campaign to reduce and prevent drug use among young Americans.' Pursuant to this act, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) launched the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign (the Media Campaign). The Media Campaign has progressed through three phases of increasing complexity and intensity. Phases I and II are not discussed in this report. ONDCP has available other reports that evaluate those phases. This report focuses on Phase III, which began in September 1999 and is planned to run at least through spring 2003. An evaluation of Phase III is being conducted under contract to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) by Westat and its subcontractor, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Funding of the evaluation is provided by ONDCP from the appropriation for the Media Campaign itself."
The media campaign is run by ONDCP along with