The State of Colorado, in partnership with the City and County of
Denver, today launched a new public education campaign - "Don't Be a Lab
Rat" - targeting youth ages 12-15 with the goal of increasing their
awareness of the risks associated with underage marijuana use.
"Don't be a lab rat" cage sits outside the Denver Public Library. (Photo: Business Wire)
The statewide campaign was funded primarily by grants from the State
Attorney General's Office and a handful of civic-minded organizations,
including the Anschutz Foundation and the El Pomar Foundation, with
additional support from the City and County of Denver. The campaign was
developed by Denver-based Sukle Advertising & Design (Sukle) in
conjunction with all of the partners and in consultation with the
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
The campaign uses the theme "Don't Be a Lab Rat" to illustrate to kids
that if they choose to use marijuana, they are consuming a substance
that has effects on teens' developing brains that are not yet fully
understood, and that by doing so they essentially volunteer as the
subjects of research about those effects.
"While much still needs to be learned about the effect marijuana has on
the brain, enough information is available to cause concern in terms of
the negative effects marijuana can have on the developing brains of
teenagers," said Dr. Larry Wolk, CDPHE's executive director and chief
medical officer. "The core premise of the 'Don't Be a Lab Rat' campaign
acknowledges that more research is necessary, but it also poses the
question of whether or not teens should risk the potential negative
effects of using marijuana."
Specific components of the campaign include:
"From the most recent Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, we know that the
percentage of high school kids who think using marijuana poses risks to
their health has gone down, which has raised the concern of health
experts who worry the normalization of marijuana in Colorado could lead
more kids to try it," said Governor John Hickenlooper. "We have a civic
and public health obligation to do everything we can to make our
children aware that there are risks for teens when they use marijuana.
This campaign is designed to grab the attention of teens and their
parents, and provide them with the facts to have an informed discussion
and make informed choices."
"We want to ensure this new industry is making a safe contribution to
our city, and that means educating our young people about the possible
effects on their development," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. "In
the way that tobacco prevention campaigns have resulted in decreased
use, our goal is to have a similar impact on teen marijuana use in
Denver and across Colorado."
In developing the campaign, Sukle conducted in-depth qualitative
research with more than 100 people - youth and experts - across the
state. This included 46 teens ranging in age from 12-20, and included a
representative mix of gender, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds.
Sukle also conducted one-on-one interviews with treatment and youth
prevention experts, and engaged in careful study of existing research on
marijuana's effects on the developing brain in consultation with CDPHE.
This research revealed that kids and teens are concerned about the
possible harmful effects of marijuana on their brains, that they are
responsive to facts and honest information about the risks of marijuana
use, and that they prefer to have this information so they can be
empowered to make informed decisions about marijuana. These findings
became the basis for the theme and structure of the campaign. The 12-15
age group was targeted because they were found to be the most
persuadable in terms of shaping their attitudes about marijuana. The
goal is therefore to reach this age group with accurate information
before they are introduced to marijuana by others.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20140811005556/en/
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