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PSA gaffe or genius slogan? South Dakota's new anti-meth ad gets mixed reviews

Anti-meth campaign mocked

A new anti-meth campaign has some people turning heads: "Meth. We're on it." 

The slogan is now prominently featured on billboards and in TV ads throughout South Dakota. One of the TV ads shows a wide range of people — an older woman in a church, a young woman on a job site, a high school football player, a young girl — saying, "I'm on meth" or "I'm on it."

The ads play with the idea that these people are either using meth or helping to address the problem.

Many interpreted it as the former.

But others, including Governor Kristi Noem, defended the double entendre as effective advertising.

Methamphetamine is ranks fourth as the cause of overdose deaths nationwide. But in nearly two dozen states west of the Mississippi, including South Dakota, the drug outpaces fentanyl, heroin and cocaine deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which breaks down drug fatalities by geographic region.

In South Dakota, the number of 12- to 17-year-olds who reported using meth in the last year is double the national average, and the number of people seeking treatment for meth addiction doubled from 2014 to 2018.

"South Dakota's meth crisis is growing at an alarming rate," said Noem in a press release. "It impacts every community in our state and threatens the success of the next generation. It is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity while destroying people and their families. This is our problem, and together, we need to get on it."

The campaign's website, onmeth.com, focuses equally on people with a meth addiction and people who want to help.

"We're encouraging everyone to work together to eliminate meth," said Laurie Gill, the state's social services secretary.

Noem is taking this issue to Congress. Earlier this month, she asked the Health and Human Services secretary for more money dedicated to battling the epidemic.

"Currently, South Dakota does not receive federal funds targeted to meth prevention," she wrote. "We need funding to educate people about the dangers of the drug, strengthen rehabilitation programming, and crack down on drug dealers through added law enforcement."

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