Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard visited Apache Junction this week to announce the kickoff of an aggressive statewide ad campaign to combat methamphetamine use among young people.
The campaign starts March 14 with a webcast — a stream of audio and video transmitted over the Internet — which will include images of the effects of meth on users, such as rotted teeth and extreme discoloration of skin.
The explicit nature of the images and intensity of the campaign are similar to the tone of an ad campaign called Montana Meth, a meth awareness program in Montana, said Andrea Esquer, a spokeswoman for Goddard’s office.
“We are bringing Montana Meth to Arizona,” Esquer said. “It’s a very expensive campaign. It’s in the millions.”
Montana Meth was launched in 2005 and has run 25,000 minutes each of television and radio commercials, 150 pages of print ads and 60 billboard and display advertisements, according to the Web site www. montanameth.org.
Goddard said he plans to kick off the Arizona campaign in April with a series of television and billboard advertisements. The television ads in Montana are often shown at night, to avoid viewing by a younger audience.
But the graphic images appear to have had an impact on viewers.
Workplace drug testing in Montana has shown a 73 percent decrease in meth use, and meth-lab incidents in the state have decreased by more than 77 percent since the ad campaign began, according to a release by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Arizona’s rural communities have seen a significant increase in health problems caused by meth. Between 2000 and 2005, meth-related hospital admissions increased 2,950 percent in rural counties such as Pinal.
Apache Junction City Councilman Dave Waldron is an administrator at Superstition Mountain Mental Health, where he said many of the calls to the facility’s hot line involve people suffering from meth withdrawal.
“We get a lot of our crisis calls involving drugs, mainly meth,” he said.
On Wednesday, Goddard told a group of Apache Junction leaders about the media blitz and praised the city’s tough, anti-meth ordinance.
Apache Junction’s council voted last year to regulate the sale of pseudophedrine, a key ingredient used to make meth included in many cold and allergy medicines. Apache Junction is one of several East Valley cities that has decided to regulate the sale of these medicines.
Goddard criticized the state Legislature for failing to enact statewide regulations on the sale of meth ingredients, which are readily available over the counter.
“The state of Arizona hasn’t stepped to the plate the way Apache Junction has,” Goddard said. “We haven’t closed the loop yet. What is it Congress gets, city councils across Arizona get, but the Legislature doesn’t get?”