NEW BILL TO BAN DRUG ADVERTISEMENTS
Congress recently approved a new bill that might affect which
advertisements students see when they step onto a bus to go to class.
The new law, which goes into effect Sunday, will revoke all state and
local grants allowing citizens to run bus advertisements in support of
reforming current drug laws on buses, trains and subways. While a
strong push for such a bill was evident in January of 2002, the U.S.
House of Representatives just approved an action early last month.
According to a Dec. 9, 2003 press release, many advertisements used to
educate the public about drug policies or reforms will no longer be
seen. The bill also grants the government $145 million to run
anti-drug advertisements this year.
The grant for the government has caused controversy. According to the
press release, the controversy stems from court records showing that
members of Congress created an anti-drug campaign in 1998, costing
billions of dollars, in an attempt to influence voters to reject state
Bill Piper, associate director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy
Alliance, is not in complete agreement with the bill.
"The government can't spend taxpayer money promoting one side of the
drug policy debate while prohibiting taxpayers from using their own
money to promote the other side," he said.
According to the press release, to reform the bill, the Drug Policy
Alliance is asking Congress to remove an anti-free speech provision
from the bill and to eliminate the taxpayer finance spending for the
government's drug advertising.
While recent advertisements seen on the Mass Transit District buses in
Champaign-Urbana typically show restaurants or upcoming school events,
buses will no longer be allowed to display any advertisements against
current drug policies.
However, Tom Costello, assistant managing director at MTD, said he
does not believe the bill will affect area buses.
"We have our own local standards," Costello said. "We want to have
some level of tastefulness in advertisements."
The MTD also does not permit alcohol or tobacco advertisements to run
on their buses, Costello said.
In President George W. Bush's State of the Union address last
Wednesday, he remarked on reducing drug use, saying, "In my budget, I
have proposed new funding to continue our aggressive, community-based
strategy to reduce demand for illegal drugs."
The president also said the purpose of the bill against drug
advertisements is to help keep children away from drugs.
According to a 2003 Monitoring the Future study, about 49.5 percent of
college students admitted to using marijuana during their lifetime and
19.7 percent of college students said they have used it in the past 30
In younger children, 17.5 percent of eighth graders admitted to using
marijuana during their lifetime. Also, about 16 percent of
marijuana-related emergency department visits in 2002 involved
patients between the ages of 6 and 17.
Gary Cooper, freshman in LAS, said the ban on advertisements will
probably affect very few college students. He also said he does not
believe removing the advertisements will help the government's cause
"I don't think (removing the advertisements) will help too much," he
said. "Kids are still going to take drugs with or without the