Washington: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is acting fast to capitalize on new data showing that teens are most likely to try marijuana for the first time in the early summer months.
A new campaign educating parents of the need to keep their children busy and away from drugs in June and July, entitled "School's Out," kicked off in Washington, DC last week. The effort is part of the ONDCP's ongoing $100 million National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, launched last February with AOR Fleishman-Hillard.
Bob Denniston, the campaign's deputy director, said that the new data offered a rare news hook for pushing the campaign's message. "One of our problems is that we often don't have much of a news peg," he explained, "so we're really focusing on this new data."
The campaign itself consists of in-person background briefings conducted with reporters across the country, new online resources for parents, private-sector partnerships, and soon-to-be-released TV ads. The private groups involved include the YMCA, the American Camping Association, the Mills Corporation, and Cinemark USA, one of the country's largest chains of movie theaters.
The YMCA will distribute materials through its 2,493 local associations as well as to camp counselors, coaches, parents, and directly to teens; the ACA will reach young people and camp counselors at camps through its 6,700-plus membership; the Mills Corporation will distribute information in malls; and Cinemark will hang posters and distribute postcards in theaters.
Denniston added that ONDCP representatives will attend a conference of National Black Journalists in Dallas this year to address the myth that black teens smoke marijuana at a higher rate than whites. "We found from the research that white kids use more than black kids, but black kids seem to be catching up," he said.