GAO Discounts Effectiveness of Anti-Drug Ad Spots

Aug 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A Government Accountability Office report released Friday says the $100 million-a-year White House youth anti-drug advertising program’s ad campaign and its focus on marijuana use hasn’t worked—at least according to a study funded by the White House.

“The evaluation provides credible evidence that the campaign was not effective in reducing youth drug use, either during the entire period of the campaign or from 2002 to 2004, when the campaign was focused on marijuana use,” the GAO report said.

The findings could present problems with obtaining more money for the ad campaign from Congress.

Tom Riley, communications director for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which funded the study and produces the campaign—much of which is TV spots—and Steve Passierb, president and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, dismissed the study’s conclusions.

They cited problems in the study’s design and its 2½-year-old data, and said the findings conflict with other government data indicating teen drug use is in steep decline.

“Teen use is down dramatically over the last four years in exactly the demographics targeted by the campaign,” said Riley. “Yet there has been no movement in any other demographics. Do the math. It’s common sense.”