Letter to the Editor

Cuts will hurt substance-abuse programs most

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

To the editor:

After careful review of two articles in the Feb. 6 issue -- the front-page article on mental-health funds and the Page 4A story announcing Anheuser-Busch's $60 million marketing campaign with Bacardi USA for a new flavored malt beverage -- I am compelled to write.

For those of us involved in substance-abuse prevention, it is important to note that we are up against insurmountable odds. When growing up, everyone sees alcohol and tobacco use portrayed as glamorous and cool, and underage drinking and smoking are promoted through too many social influences: media, peer, parental and community.

I was not surprised by the Busch-Bacardi campaign. Big dollars are their life -- whatever it takes to sell their product. However, at what expense to our youths? Research shows 78 percent of teens and 65 percent of adults say alcohol advertising contributes to underage drinking, which costs our country an estimated $52 billion a year. We also know tobacco's astronomical health cost and its devastating health impact.

So why cut the Department of Mental Health's budget so greatly as to "not only eliminate many agency programs, but terminate several federally funded assistance projects that require state matching funds"? It doesn't make sense to make the severest cuts in the alcohol- and drug-abuse programs, which will affect treatment and prevention services that are so greatly needed.

Contact your legislators and Gov. Bob Holden. If we do not stand up for ourselves and our youths, who will?


Prevention Advocate

Southeast Regional Support Center

Southeast Missouri State


Cape Girardeau