First Lady to help hispanic kids kick the habit

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In an effort to educate and engage Hispanic parents in youth drug prevention, the nation's Drug Czar, John P. Walters, First Lady Columba Bush, and Director of the Florida Office of Drug Control Policy, Jim McDonough, today unveiled a new national Spanish-language advertising campaign.

The ads are part of the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Hispanic outreach initiative, which includes news media outreach, community partnerships, and online and print resources aimed at parents and youth. "Marijuana use is a serious problem for all young people, but we are particularly concerned about the high usage rates among Hispanic eighth graders, who are using this harmful drug at a crucial time in their lives," said Director Walters. "We know that parents are the most important influence in preventing youth drug use.

These new ads demonstrate effective strategies for raising drug-free teens and our program gives Hispanic parents the resources they need to take an active role in drug prevention." Among eighth graders, Hispanics tend to have the highest rates of past-year drug use for most illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

One in 10 Hispanic youth ages 12-17 reports using illicit drugs in the past month. Despite these figures, many Hispanic parents do not realize that their child may be at risk and aren't sure what they can do to make a difference.

The television, radio and print ads released today were created by Conill Advertising, an advertising unit of Saatchi & Saatchi focused on the Hispanic market, in coordination with the Partnership for a Drug- Free America. The ads, which begin airing nationwide this month, show teens asking their parents 'do you know who I am with?', 'do you know my friends?', 'do you know their parents?' The ads encourage parents to "involucrarse," or "get involved", and highlight their important role in drug prevention.

The ads can be viewed online at or "This important effort reminds Hispanic parents that all kids are at risk for using marijuana or other drugs," said Florida First Lady Columba Bush, who serves as the National Madrina for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). "Familia can be a strong force in protecting teens. By staying involved, asking tough questions and talking to teens about the dangers of marijuana, parents can help keep them drug-free." "Marijuana is not a benign drug," said Director McDonough. "Research shows that marijuana can be addictive and lead to a host of health, social, learning and behavioral problems at a critical time in young lives." As part of the Media Campaign's Hispanic outreach efforts, a bilingual booklet, Proteja a sus hijos de las drogas: Una guia para los padres/Keeping Your Kids Drug-Free: A How-To Guide for Parents and Caregivers, was released in October. The booklet, which incorporates culturally-appropriate information and resources, includes facts about marijuana and other illicit drugs and specific ideas, communication tips, conversation starters, and examples of the skills busy parents can use to prevent teen drug use.

Free copies are available by calling the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, (800) 788- 2800, (877) SIN-DROGAS (for Spanish) or through To reach a growing online Hispanic population, the Media Campaign also has an in-language Web site,, for Hispanic parents and adult caregivers. provides drug information, prevention strategies, and tips on raising healthy, drug-free children, along with advice from parenting and substance abuse prevention experts and other parents.

Visitors to can sign up for a regular Spanish-language parenting tips e-mail. In 1998, with bipartisan support, Congress created the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign with the goal of educating and enabling young people to reject illicit drugs. The Campaign is an integrated communications effort that combines advertising with public communications outreach to deliver anti- drug messages and skills to America's youth, their parents, and other influential adults. For more information on the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, visit


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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