THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
|July 9, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN LAUNCHING THE NATIONAL YOUTH ANTI-DRUG MEDIA CAMPAIGN
Sidney Marcus Auditorium
Georgia World Congress Center
10:40 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.(Applause.)First of all, let's begin by giving Kim and James another hand. Didn'ttheydo a good job? (Applause.) They spoke well for you.
Mr. Speaker, Governor Miller, Mr. Mayor, General McCaffrey,
General Reno, Secretary Shalala, I thank you all for your superb efforts in
this endeavor. I'd like to say a special word of appreciation to JimBurke,the President of the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He's not aswell-known to most American children as the President or the Speaker or the
Governor, but no American has done more to save the children of thiscountryfrom the horror of drug abuse than Jim Burke. And we all owe him a verygreatdebt of gratitude. Thank you. (Applause.)
I'd also like to thank the Ad Council, the CommunityAnti-DrugCoalition, the athletic teams and sports figures that are represented heretoday, the business groups, the Georgia Attorney General, and AgricultureCommissioner of the other state and municipal and county officials -- andCongress Peter Deutch* from Florida is here with us today. I thank all ofthem for being here. And there are many others who aren't here who aresupporting what we are doing together as Americans.
I was interested when we just watched the ads to see whattheyoung people's reaction was to the various ads. I was wondering to myselfwhether the ads that were most effective with me were also the ones thatweremost effective to you, or whether they were different. I say that to makethepoint that the
Speaker made so eloquently -- in the end this is about you, whattouches you, what you believe, what your convictions are.
We know from the stories that we just heard fromJames and from Kim, we know from all the available scientific
research, that what Governor Miller said is right -- attitudesdrive actions. There are lots of other factors. There are someplaces where kids are subject to more temptation than others;there are some blocks where there are more drug dealers thanothers; all of us have to deal with that. But we know that themore young people fear drugs, the more they disapprove of them,the less likely they are to use them. Therefore, kickingAmerica's drug habit requires a dramatic change in attitudes,accompanied and reenforced by a dramatic increase in personalresponsibility by all Americans.
Parents have the greatest power -- that's what oneof the ads showed us. The ads we saw today are not meant toreplace parents' voices, but to reenforce them. Ultimately, thebest drug enforcement program, the best drug prevention programis an effective, caring, loving parent sitting down with a childand talking seriously about drugs early.
Parents have already told us that these ads help tobreak the ice with their children. So I ask the parents ofAmerica today, don't wait until your children are using drugs totalk to them about drugs. Watch the ads together and discussthem, beginning tonight.
Every one of the rest of us can, and must, helpparents to teach their children to turn away from drugs. Theentertainment industry can shape attitudes, as anyone who has ateenager can tell you. The media should never glamorize drugs.I'm pleased that across the entertainment industry, a real effortis now being made to help, with the anti-drug messages on theWonderful World of Disney, anti-drug chat groups on AmericaOnLine, even training sessions about youth drug use forscreenwriters and producers at Fox -- something I hope we willsee for all people who prepare television programs on allnetworks.
Professional athletes can shape attitudes. I thankMajor League Soccer, the Florida Marlins, the New York Mets,Atlanta's own Braves for agreeing to air the ads during theirhome games. And while one of government's primaryresponsibilities is to enforce the law -- and we should -- we canalso support this change in attitudes.
As General McCaffrey said, with the help of theSpeaker and people from across the political spectrum, we haveaggressively pursued a comprehensive anti-drug strategy. We'veput more police on our streets. We've strengthened our borderpatrols. We've toughened penalties. We do more drug testing ofprisoners and parolees to break the link between crime and drugs.We work more with countries where drugs are grown and processedto try to stop the drugs from coming into the United States inthe first place.
But with this ad campaign, in which the public's
investment is matched dollar for dollar by private partners,America is mounting a new and sweeping effort to change theattitude of an entire generation of young people.
Already, we've seen an impact in the 12 cities wherethe ads have run as a pilot project. Calls -- listen to this--in just those 12 cities, calls to local anti-drug coalitionhotlines have increased by up to 500 percent. Calls to ournational anti-drug helpline have nearly tripled. Young peoplehere in Atlanta say that the ads make them realize the seriousconsequences of using drugs. In Denver, middle school studentsthink the ads could scare kids out of using drugs, to quote oneof them. In Washington, D.C., young people say, to quote one,the ads make them stop and think about what illegal drugs can do.
Tonight, when these ads run on every nationaltelevision network, they will reach more than 40 millionAmericans, including millions and millions of children. That isjust the beginning. Over the next five years, we'll help to makesure that when young people turn on the television, listen to theradio, read the newspaper, or surf the Web, they get the powerfulmessage that drugs are wrong, illegal, and can kill.
I'm proud to say, as has already been said byGeneral McCaffrey, that this national media campaign was a partof the historical bipartisan balanced budget agreement reachedlast year with Speaker Gingrich and the other leaders ofCongress. And I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for including this inour budget agreement. It shows what we can accomplish when weput progress ahead of partisanship. I will work with theCongress to fund other important programs in our drug controlstrategy.
All of us -- parents, the media, athletes, business,government -- have an opportunity and an obligation to make areal difference in the fight against drugs. But nothing we dowill succeed, as the Speaker said, unless young people also takeresponsibility for themselves.
We've heard some personal stories; I'd like to closewith two -- one from my family, and one from the job the Americanpeople have so generously given me these six years. Let me beginwith the job.
I spent a lot of time haranguing, cajoling, tryingto persuade, sometimes putting brutal pressure on countries wheredrugs are grown or processed, or through which drugs pass, tryingto get people to stop doing things that send drugs to us. Andwe've had some success. We supported remarkable efforts by theCoast Guard, for example, to cut off drugs before they get tothis country. But we can never cut off the whole flow. Andevery time I'd do this, some leader of a country where drugs aregrown will say: You know, Mr. President, you're right, we have alot of poor farmers in our country, and I wish they'd grow
something else. But America has four percent of the world'speople and you're buying almost 50 percent of the world's drugs.Nobody is making you buy those drugs. So you can say whateveryou want to us. If you just said tomorrow -- everybody inAmerica said, we're not going to buy any more drugs, all ourfarmers would immediately start to grow something legal and good.And that's true. (Applause.)
Now, that doesn't let them off the hook, it doesn'texcuse the inexcusable behavior of the Colombian drug cartels orany other groups in any part of the world. But it is true. Itis true. It doesn't mean we should stop trying to kill the drugsat the border and stop the imports and break the drug gangs. Butit's true. If every American young person tomorrow said, no,thank you, they would grow something else. Thelaboratories would make other chemicals that are legal and notharmful. (Applause.)
I'll tell you another story that's fairlywell-known, but I want you to think about what it means forfamilies. This young man was brave enough to say that his motherused drugs, and talk about what -- the pain it caused the family.My brother nearly died from a cocaine habit. And I've askedmyself a thousand times, what kind of fool was I that I did notknow this was going on. You know, I got myself electedPresident, I'm supposed to know what people are thinking, what'sgoing on in their minds. How did this happen that I didn't seethis coming and didn't stop it?
And when it all happened he said -- I said, when didthis start? He said, well, in high school; I started usingmarijuana and drinking beer. I said, how often? He said, everyday. And I thought to myself, what kind of family member was I? And these things make you do really bad things.They make you abuse other people. Most of the people sellingdrugs on the street are out there supporting their own habits.So you take other people, people who are basically good people,and you turn them into animals, because they don't care what theydo to anybody else because they've got to get the money if theyhave to destroy somebody else, so they can keep feeding their ownhabits. They destroy families. Mothers who love their sons windup neglecting them, abusing them, walking away, weakening thefamily. Everybody gets hurt. Nobody in America is free of this.Not the President. Not any community, any school, any church,any neighborhood.
So the hardest thing in the world to do is to getpeople to change their habits, especially if what you're doingfeels good in the moment. But it's very important. Nothing isso important -- not the laws, not the investments, not anything.Nothing is so important as what the American people get up and doevery day, just because they think it's the right thing to do.Nothing comes close to it.
So we're here today because we took a little bit ofthe money the American people gave the national government -- abillion dollars over the next five years -- put it with at leastthat much and maybe more coming from private sources, to send amessage to all these kids. I look at all these little girls outhere in their Girl Scouts or their Brownie uniforms -- themessage seems simple today. When they're 14 or 15 or 16 or 17 or18, and life gets more complicated, it's real important that theycarry with them the message that they have today deep in theirheart.
I look at all these kids with these America's Pridetee-shirts on, and what I want them to do is to go back andsomehow reach all those kids that are in their schools that don'twear those tee-shirts. There's somebody like my brother back atyour school who is a good kid, just a little lost. Somebody toldhim something is all right that wasn't. And the family memberswere just a little out of it and couldn't believe it was goingon. You can save them. That's what these ads are all about.
These ads are designed to knock America upside thehead and get America's attention, and to empower all of you whoare trying to do the right thing. (Applause.) Please do it.
Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)