|A $1.4 billion anti-drug advertising campaign conducted by the U.S. government since 1998 does not appear to have helped reduce drug use and instead might have convinced some youths that taking illegal drugs is normal, the Government Accountability Office says.|
The GAO report, released Friday, urges Congress to stop the White House's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign unless drug czar John Walters can come up with a better strategy. President Bush's budget for 2007 asks Congress for $120 million for the campaign, a $20 million increase from this year.
Walters' office disputed the study and noted that drug-use rates among youths have declined since 1998. A 2005 survey by the University of Michigan indicated that 30% of 10th-graders reported having used an illicit drug the previous year, down from 35% in 1998.
The GAO report is "irrelevant to us," says Tom Riley, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). "It's based on ads from 2� years ago, and they were effective, too. Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil (its) progress."
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