Drug czar launches anti-meth ad campaign

St. Louis – Missouri is one of 16 states that will be part of a blitz of federally-funded advertising against methamphetamine.

The nation's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske joined law enforcement officials in St. Louis Tuesday to unveil the latest anti-meth campaign. Radio and television ads will air in Missouri and 15 other states with high rates of methamphetamine production, while print and Internet-based ads will run in all states.

The $8 million campaign is targeted at 18-to-22-year-olds in an effort to prevent methamphetamine addiction in the first place. Kerlikowske, the former police chief of Seattle, said research shows that age group is particularly influenced by what they see in the media.

"But I think just as importantly the part of this ad campaign that talks about the potential to have treatment that is successful," he said. "For too long, the myth has been out there that methamphetamine addiction is something that cannot be treated."

The ads will run until November. The US House and Senate are currently trying to reach agreement on a funding level for next year's campaign.

Kerlikowske was also in St. Louis to speak with local law enforcement agencies about the programs in place to tackle meth use and production. In Missouri currently, people who buy drugs containing pseudoephedrine - a decongestant in many popular cold and allergy medications and a key ingredient in meth - must show a photo ID and sign a log. The state passed a law mandating a computer-based system to prevent people from purchasing the drugs at numerous pharmacies, but did not fund the program.

Attorney General Chris Koster was among the participants in the law enforcement meeting. He said a consensus is forming among sheriffs and prosecutors that pseudoephedrine needs to be issued with a prescription only.

"As attorney general what we will do now is to frame the consensus that is building so strongly across law enforcement, and take that message in a strong way to the Missouri General Assembly when they reconvene next year," he said.