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$365-Million Anti-Drug Media Campaign Is Aimed at Influencing Black Americans

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A coalition of advertising and media organizations has launched a $365-million anti-drug advertising campaign that places special emphasis on influencing black Americans.

The campaign is being organized by the Media-Advertising Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which has produced more than 200 anti-drug advertisements for radio, television, and the print media since 1987.

The coalition, which includes 75 advertising agencies, will try to persuade television and radio stations and print media to donate air time and advertising space for the anti-drug spots. Over the past two years, print and electronic media have donated a total of $310 million in air time and print space, according to the coalition.

Among the commercials targeting black Americans, one television advertisement shows blacks being shackled and shipped to slavery in America.

The commercial, which was produced by a black-owned agency, notes that blacks have long fought for freedom and equality.

"Don't dishonor them by becoming a slave to heroin, cocaine, and crack," the commercial concludes. "Drug abuse is the new slavery."

Another commercial features a child who says she is hungry because her mother spent the family's food money on drugs.

The coalition hopes to get $90 million in donated time and space for the black-oriented advertisements. The campaign also targets children between the ages of 9 and 13 and their parents.

The coalition said that its efforts over the past two years have helped reduce the percentage of people who report using drugs. A survey of nearly 7,000 people in shopping malls across the country showed that areas in which the the advertisements were shown frequently posted a 33 percent decrease in marijuana use and a 15 percent decrease in cocaine use among adults during the previous year, the coalition said.

In areas in which the advertisements were shown less often, marijuana use dropped by 15 percent and cocaine use by 2 percent, the coalition said.

The survey also found that 6 percent of the children between the ages of 9 and 12 who responded reported using marijuana, up from 4 percent in 1988.--ef

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