and the next generation of public health policy

There are a lot of unanswered questions in the above writeups that really can be answered quite simply:

truth is a propoganda machine run by the government of the United States.

Well, that's an inflammatory way to put it. truth is, in reality, the public side of the American Legacy Foundation, which is a foundation funded by tobacco companies as part of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998. The ALF itself is run by a board of 11 members, six of which are elected officials from state governments, the other five selected by the first six.

Since the ALF is explicitly prohibited from making political endorsements, so too is truth, which is why you will always hear about unnamed officials at unnamed tobacco companies, but never about their cronies in either party.

truth's roots in the ALF further explain the nature of their ads, which are generally "renegade" or amateurish in style (though they have become more sleek as of late); they're designed that way to be appealing to a wide, young audience by a panel of specialists in child psychology and public health who sit on the board of the ALF.

If you'd like to know more, go to the ALF node. I hesitate to write more about it here for fear of being redundant...

truth's half-sister, the anti-drug

The "anti-drug" program -- for lack of a better name -- came about at about the same time as the ALF, though through congressional support (as opposed to legal settlement).

the anti-drug finds its origins in 1988, when Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, creating the White House Office of National Drug Abuse Policy. This Office is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the anti-drug programs of various federal organizations and state and local programs. In 1998, the Office launched the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign with bipartisan congressional support. The Campaign is, as you might have guessed, essentially an advertising machine.

This Campaign is responsible for the anti-drug program, which we might more recently recognize for its harmless? ads. the anti-drug works a little differently from truth in that its commercial "buys" must be met by "media matches" -- in other words, for every commercial purchased with government money, the media outlet (be it a tv or radio station or internet site) must sponsor its own anti-drug spot by issuing a Campaign-approved PSA. Until recently, this media match could be fulfilled in kind with programming reflecting the sort of anti-drug values the Campaign is seeking to propagate. This might explain why the anti-drug is a bit more omnipresent than truth.

The changing face of public health policy

Both these programs taken together disturb me quite a bit, because they signal an insidious shift in the nature of government-sponsored or -supported propaganda. I grew up with the DARE program and with rather easy-to-spot efforts by my teachers to stop me from using drugs. As such I could mentally distinguish between my own perceptions of drugs and those taught to me by my "elders," and the two sets of values could inform one another and thus lead to a practical, reasoned acceptance or rejection of various drugs.

The problem with these programs is that they try to slip into the consciousness of today's youth imperceptibly. They don't mention their connection to the Establishment, knowing full well that such a connection would downplay the credibility of their message in the minds of the young. They thus, hypocritically, proclaim the "truth" while at the same time obscuring the truth of their own existence, all to support and perpetuate misinformed attitudes on drugs of all varieties. There is no public dialogue on the issues; there is no informed choice.

Sapere Aude.