New Research Shows Meth Campaign Didn't Reduce Use

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A new study out of the University of Washington shoots holes in the effectiveness of an anti-meth campaign supported by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and First Lady Lori Otter.

The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Health Economics said that the Montana Meth Project, the model of similar projects in Idaho and six other states, didn't affect the use of the drug.

"Research shows that the project has had no discernable impact on meth use," said D. Mark Anderson, A UW doctoral student in economics, author of the study.

After the Montana Meth Project began its initial campaign, Idaho launched a similar one. In 2008, the Idaho Legislature approved $1 million to fund the campaign. In 2009, another $500,000 was approved. And in the midst of wholesale budget cutting, the Legislature's Joint Finance Appropriations Committee approved yet another $500,000 for the campaign in March of this year. The money came from Idaho's share of the national tobacco settlement.

Otter supports the project and first lady Lori otter sits on the project's Idaho board.

The primary elements of the campaign have been graphic advertisements saturating radio, television and print outlets around the state. The ads depict decay of users' bodies, young girls selling themselves to older men for meth, teens committing violent crimes to support meth habits and groups of meth users allowing their friends to die.

Study results also show that the Montana Meth Project has had no influence on usage rates for other substances such as cocaine, heroin and household inhalants. Anderson found that the project had no discernable effect on meth use among Montana residents ages 15 to 29. The findings suggest that other factors, such as increased policing that occurred before the project, are more likely to have contributed to decreased use of methamphetamine.