A federal anti-drug advertising program that has cost taxpayers $1.4 billion since 1998 has failed to reduce drug use and may have actually encouraged some youths to use illegal substances, the Government Accountability Office says in a report released Friday. USA Today reports that the GAO recommends Congress stop funding the White House’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign unless a better strategy is attempted. President Bush’s budget for 2007 asks for $120 million for the campaign, a $20 million increase from this year.
The White House drug office disputed the study’s findings. “It’s based on ads from 2½ years ago, and they were effective, too,” said Tom Riley, spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). “Drug use has been going down dramatically. Cutting the program now would imperil (its) progress.”