Study: Marijuana Imagery In Anti-Pot Ads Encourages Teen Use

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 9, 2009

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    Anti-drug public service announcements that feature teens using marijuana are less likely to dissuade viewers from experimenting with pot than are advertisements absent such images, according to survey data to be published in the journal Health Communication.

    Investigators at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania assessed the attitudes of over 600 adolescents, aged 12 to 18, after viewing 60 government funded anti-marijuana service announcements. Specifically, researchers evaluated whether the presence of marijuana-related imagery in the ads (e.g., the handling of marijuana cigarettes or the depiction of marijuana smoking behavior) were more likely or less likely to discourage viewers’ use of cannabis.

    Messages that depict teens associating with cannabis are “significantly less effective than others,” the researchers found.

    This negative impact of marijuana scenes is not reversed in the presence of strong anti-marijuana arguments in the ads and is mainly present for the group of adolescents who are often targets of such anti-marijuana ads (i.e., high-risk adolescents),” authors determined. “For this segment of adolescents, including marijuana scenes in anti-marijuana (public service announcements) may not be a good strategy.”

    Since 1998, Congress has appropriated over $2 billion to fund anti-drug advertisements as part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Independent reviews of the campaign have determined that the ads fail to discourage viewers from trying marijuana or other drugs.

    In 2006, a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors reported that teenagers who were most often exposed to the ad campaign were also most likely to hold positive attitudes about marijuana and were most likely to express their intent to use it.

    68 responses to “Study: Marijuana Imagery In Anti-Pot Ads Encourages Teen Use”

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    2. “Since 1998, Congress has appropriated over $2 billion to fund anti-drug advertisements as part of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign”

      * * * And just imagine how many school books that could have bought so my son who is 8 isn’t using the same books with my name written in them that I used in the same school when I was his age and back then remembering using books that had my fathers name written on the front cover. This fucking government is a disgrace.

    3. Big T says:

      those anti marijuana ads made me want to smoke. even more so than the tv ads was in third grade when they started teaching us about drugs and why people use them. the teacher told us that people used drugs because the drugs made you feel good and that marijuana smokers would hold in the smoke for a long time to make these effects more intense. needless to say ever since then i have been fascinated with marijuana. seeing the president talk on tv in our classroom about the new epidemic known as crack and how powerful it is and how users get an instant “rush” just added to these feelings of wanting to use drugs. and guess what…i did use drugs. ive done almost everything in the book.the first time i ever smoked crack was in the 8th grade(i was never a crack head.only experimented a few times).the only “drug” i do these days is smoke sweet mary jane. has anyone else had this experience growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s? i would like to think my teacher and the president meant well but all they did was advertise the drugs and the effects that they had.

    4. David says:

      The ads are laughable at best and everyone knows it.

    5. johnny says:

      dude! your blinking!

    6. Annah says:

      That was the gayest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. The stereotyping of “stoners” is pathetic. And has anyone EVER seen someone who had been using pot act that fucking stupid? What’s so lame about this tripe is that it perpetuates idiotic stereotypes and gives absolutely no message whatsoever.

      Whoever came up with the idea for that one is a fucking fruitcake dipshit. Pardon all my “French” but they are so friggin asinine I can barely sit still.

      Fucking morons.

    7. alex says:

      they’re anti marijuana campaign is fucking ridiculous and a huge waste of tax payer money.

      even those were for heroin or coke they would still be absurd

    8. Ethan H. says:

      The whole “Above The Influence” thing makes me laugh.
      I remember the video where the girl falls asleep and her friends can’t wake her up. They’re all “LOL SHE’S GONNA HAVE SUCH A HEADACHE IN THE MORNING!”, like the good friends they are coloring on her and stuff.

      I don’t ever recall having such things happen to me while high… I do, however, recall having such things happen to me while drunk.

      Who’s paying for Above The Influence anyway?…
      I certainly hope not the people of the United States.
      It’s quite sickening they’re allowed to tell such lies. If they wanna help make a difference in the youth of America, discourage brain-cell killing, liver-rotting, cancer-causing legal substances.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Above the Influence is taxpayer funded, so yes you and I are indeed the ones footing the bill for this stereotypical nonsense. Fortunately, federal funding for the Media Campaign has been slashed dramatically in recent years.]

    9. Samuel says:

      Notice that they disabled the ratings, because they know that otherwise they’ll be torn apart.