The Ad Campaign Against Drugs

Unfortunately, the opinion piece "Shades of Reefer Madness" (July 24) attacking the National Youth Anti-Drug Media campaign makes only one thing abundantly clear: the author did not do her homework. Indeed, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media campaign is a well-researched campaign that does exactly what the article suggests we should be doing: truthful depictions of the real consequences of drug use. Half of the advertisements are targeted toward parents. These ads have a very simple, but important message: talk to your children about drugs. Another 10 percent of the advertisements are aimed at other adults, urging them to get involved. These advertisements are already beginning to work - calls by parents for more information to the National Drug Information hotline have increased three-fold.

All of the advertisements received extensive testing with youth audiences by the Annenberg School of Communications before being selected for use, and all tested well with teens. Interestingly, the one advertisement that the article criticizes, the "Frying Pan" ad, tested as particularly effective with our target middle school audience. Remember, younger teens are the audience. Any reader who wants to learn more about the campaign is invited to check the documents on our Web site at www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov

Charles Blanchard


Chief Counsel, Office of National Drug Control Policy

Minimum wage and job loss

I would like to address some of the misstatements and errors in "Minimum Wage Pushes Higher, Controversy Grows Louder" (July 20).

You used unemployment rates to argue that the Employment Policies Institute's facts were wrong about job loss resulting from the 1996-97 minimum wage increase. The unemployment rate, which measures people looking for work, is an inappropriate measure of job loss. Using a more accurate measure, a comprehensive review of Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that 215,000 teen jobs were lost following the first half of the 1996-97 mandated wage hike. Rather than rising with overall employment, teen employment rates fell after the wage hike.

Contrary to your verbatim recounting of a misleading "analysis," the average family income of minimum wage earners was more than $35,000, according to the US Census Bureau. The vast majority of beneficiaries lived with their parents, lived alone with no children, or lived with an employed spouse. Less than 20 percent of the "benefits" went to families living in poverty.

Yes, mandatory wage hikes are popular. A national poll found 78 percent of Americans think the rate should rise. But the same survey shows 85 percent don't know the current level of the wage they want raised. Too often we confuse sound economics with compassion.

Richard Berman


Executive Director, Employment Policies Institute

Pro cycling and drugs

I enjoyed reading "Cycling's Premier Race: Tour de Drugs?" (July 24). While I do not agree with much of it, the message is clear that professional cycling and professional sports in general have a doping problem. However, you paint the entire sport with a very wide brush when you imply that all riders are on dope. Pro cycling has the tightest drug controls in sports. Some will try to cheat, but please remember that no US rider has ever been suspended from the Tour de France because of drugs.

As for the "aversion of gaze" to the Tour, I still watched every night. In fact, watching Greg LeMond in 1986 inspired me to start racing. After six years of amateur racing, I can tell you that drugs have no part in the sport in the US. Strength, guts, and heart do.

James S. Rawstron

via e-mail

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