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Public Papers - 1992 - July

Remarks to the President's Drug Advisory Council

1992-07-22

Please be seated, and thank you very, very much. I don't know why they get such a distinguished group here so early. I would like the record to show that Jim and I are almost on time. I saw some nervous looks up at the sky. But here we are in the Rose Garden. I look around this audience, and I am very grateful not just for your being here but for this wonderful level of participation in the fight against drugs.

Obviously, I remain not only grateful to but most impressed with the work that Jim Burke is doing. Bill Moss is with us today, Michael Walsh, and then other members of the President's Drug Advisory Council. Alvah Chapman, my heavens, what he's done not only on the national scene but in the community there in Florida is remarkable. And so many other business and community leaders, I salute you all.

I would say this: I would like to salute people who have helped achieve the improbable. You ask anyone with a teenager or a grandchild, and drugs are no longer cool. When we presented this bipartisan -- and we want to keep it that way -- bipartisan drug strategy almost 3 years ago, we put great emphasis on the role of prevention in the private sector. Today, I just want to thank all of you for what you've done to help curb the drug use that declares open season on the innocent.

The administration had hoped to cut the overall drug use by 10 percent, and you all helped surpass that goal. We wanted to slash occasional cocaine use by 15 percent; it went down 22. Three separate studies confirm that adolescents' use of cocaine dropped 63 percent from 1988 to 1991. And America, a lot of America, put it this way, is clearly giving up drugs, and especially the young. Therein lies an awful lot of hope.

This is an important start, and I emphasize that word ``start,'' in a difficult fight. Today, according to the national drug control policy, there are still up to 12 million users of illegal drugs. That's why in November of 1989, we created the President's Drug Advisory Council to further mobilize the private sector in our antidrug strategy. And thus began a great crusade of citizen-formed community coalitions against drugs.

In January I saw it firsthand when I met with more than 700 coalition leaders attending your national leadership forum. I am told there are more than 900 of these community organizations, with more being formed daily.

I look forward to this October when they will be helped by a new organization growing out of the President's Drug Advisory Council, the Community Antidrug Coalitions of America. Now, this group is going to work with business, with labor, with community leaders to eliminate drugs.

So will another major initiative of our Council, which I'm pleased to announce today. Eight months ago, I met with the Council's Workplace Committee, and from that has come a program which seeks to make every workplace in America drug-free, and its title, a very simple one: Drugs Don't Work.

Today the good news is that close to 90 percent of large companies do have antidrug programs, and we know that they do work. The bad news is that we don't have programs where now they are needed the most, in small and medium-sized businesses. Here you'll find many of the more than 2 million Americans who use cocaine and the 12 million overall who use drugs. It's for them that you and Council members like Frank Tasco and Al Casey and David Clare, George Dillon have teamed to provide freedom from drugs in the marketplace.

Last year I went down to the Tropicana plant, to Tropicana Products in Florida and heard about their employee assistance program. One day an employee called this program's toll-free line for help in battling addiction and alcoholism, and then very recently he wrote the local newspaper saying, and here's his quote, ``The substance abuse treatment program was a godsend.'' Well, there's stories like this all over the country.

It's also true of the employee of New England Telephone who sent a thank-you note to Paul O'Brien. The letter described how the company's tough stand forced the woman to confront her alcohol and drug problem. Today she's back at work, healthy and productive.

From coast to coast, business and labor are working to drive drugs out of the workplace. Let me salute these beginnings, and let me also challenge you to build upon them.

Today drugs cost the economy more than billion annually in lost productivity, health care, and other expenses. This harms the ability of our businesses to succeed and compete. By defeating drugs we will help America win in the global economy, we'll help educate our citizens for a new century, and we'll open more opportunity than ever for all Americans, preserving one Nation under God.

Stopping drug abuse will help put America back to work, instill pride, increase productivity, improve quality, and then again heighten our competitiveness. Stopping drugs will also strengthen the family, reaffirming values like discipline and self-reliance, courtesy, and belief in God.

If you ever want to understand the importance of your work, do as I did yesterday when I met with the black mayors association, or do what I did a couple of months before that when I met with the mayors from the National League of Cities. They talked about the decline of the American family as the major source of urban decay. They went on to emphasize the need to win this battle against drugs as the way not just to whip the drug problem but to reunite and strengthen the American family. They know that drug abuse costs incomes and jobs, hurts the children, destroys marriages. We've got to end it, and we will.

We must all just pledge renewal that we're going to get this job done. And that's why we have worked with the private sector to expand and improve workplace programs. It's why our antidrug budget for '93, fiscal '93, is up by 93 percent since I took office.

Today I would urge the Congress once again, call on the United States Congress to fund this request to spur effective treatment and prevention. Above all, I call on the Congress to pass crime legislation now up on the Hill. I still strongly favor a death penalty for drug kingpins who kill our police officers. Let those who sow the wind of crime reap the whirlwind of punishment.

As business and community leaders, each of you is helping with a crusade. It really is as historic as Normandy and as deadly as Pork Chop Hill, as monumental as the fall of imperial communism. It's a crusade to take drugs off the streets so that Americans can take back the streets. We've got our work cut out for us, but I know that we're going to triumph.

I am very grateful to all of you for what we've already done. I'm not sure the American -- maybe this is something I can help with -- I'm not sure the American people know that we have had some dramatic successes, thanks to the work of the private sector and dedicated individuals sitting right here. We've got our work cut out for us, but we've done a lot. With this new initiative, I'm confident that what you'll do in the future will get the job done.

So thank you all very, very much. Thanks for coming. And may God bless our great country. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:15 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to PDAC officials James Burke, Chairman, J. Michael Walsh, Executive Director, and William Moss, former Chairman; PDAC member Alvah H. Chapman, Jr.; and Paul O'Brien, chairman, New England Telephone.

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