Remarks on Signing the National Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Week Proclamation

September 21, 1984

The President. Thank you very much. And now that we have Nancy properly placed, she and I welcome you all here to the White House. Senator Chiles and Congressman Bennett, our distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning, and again, welcome.

We're here to thank the -- to mark the progress, I should say, of the fight against drug abuse and to commit ourselves to an even greater national effort in the months ahead. Within the last several years, I think America has come to its senses about drug abuse. We raised a battle flag and declared war on one of the gravest problems that I think is facing our nation. Action replaced debate. We knew the fight wouldn't be easy, but we also knew we couldn't afford to lose. We're fighting for the health of our children and the future of America.

Well, we've made a lot of progress during these past 3 years. Permissive attitudes are giving way to a new sense of responsibility. Hopelessness and helplessness are being replaced with optimism and a willingness to join together in the fight. Concerned parents are banding together, and hundreds of community and business organizations have joined the ranks. Education programs are erasing 20 years of wrong-headed attitudes about drug use. And we're taking aim where it counts the most: teaching the drug users and potential drug users to say no to drugs.

At the Federal level, we've taken strong measures to crack down on big-money drug traffickers and to catch drug smugglers in the act. Yet we all know that we have a long way to go. About one-fourth of our nation's young people continue to abuse drugs or alcohol, and too many children are still getting into drugs every day. And thousands of teenagers are killed every year in auto accidents due to drunk and drugged driving.

As you know, Nancy has traveled across America visiting schools and treatment facilities, seeking every opportunity to promote an antidrug, proachievement generation. In her travels, she's come home to me with stories of heartbreak that she's seen, and broken dreams and families and lost lives. But she's convinced, and she's convinced me, that all of us -- if we work together, become more involved, more knowledgeable, and step up the fight -- can save a generation and help preserve its promise and hope.

And doing just that is the heart of our 1984 national strategy for prevention of drug abuse and drug trafficking. The 1984 strategy will be released next week during National Drug Abuse, Education, and Prevention Week. But let me tell you that we'll be striving to reinforce the program that is now in place. We're on the right track, we don't need to change direction, but we do need to step up the pace.

The Federal Government will redouble its efforts to stop drug trafficking, punishing drug traffickers, and increase international cooperation to control narcotics. But ultimately, victory can only come from the dedication and commitment of private industry, public organizations, local government, and citizen volunteers. We need to get more people involved, particularly in prevention programs. And we'll be calling on the American people to help us.

To win this fight, we're going to need the kind of help that those of you here have given to your communities and to all of us. And I know that for each of you here today there are thousands of other caring Americans who are also giving of themselves. None of you ever expected any reward for what you did. That's the way it's always been in America. But believe me, I'm delighted that we have the opportunity to recognize you today.

As chairman of the Texans' War on Drug committees, Mr. Ross Perot is helping to make Texas one of the worst places in the world for drug users, pushers, dealers, and traffickers. And his committee is now a model for many other States.

Mrs. Marsha Menatt Schuchard and Mrs. Loretta ``Sis'' Wenger have contributed unsparingly of their time, energy, and talents to make lasting contributions to the National Drug Abuse Prevention Program. Mrs. Schuchard was the inspiration behind an acclaimed TV documentary and is the author of two important books on the dangers of marijuana. Mrs. Wenger's drug abuse education program is reaching communities all across America. The unselfish efforts of these two ladies are changing attitudes and saving lives.

D.C. Comics, a division of Warner Communications represented by William Sarnoff, and the Keebler Company, represented by Thomas Garvin, have worked together to produce and distribute 3 million drug awareness comic books. And the popularity of their comic book characters is helping to educate our young people about the dangers of drugs and the reasons for them to say no.

McNeil Pharmaceutical, represented by Jack O'Brien, is the driving force behind a drug abuse education program that establishes our nation's pharmacists as a local source of credible information and technical assistance on drug use and abuse. And today their program, Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse, is in 85 percent of our nation's retail pharmacies.

Each of you is demonstrating the unique American spirit of voluntarism. In your own way, you're helping resolve the drug abuse problem in a more effective manner than we could ever do with large Federal programs. We're grateful for the people you've helped and the people whose lives that you've touched and whose burdens you've lifted because you cared enough to extend a helping hand and a warm heart.

And now, I'm going to ask Nancy to help in the handing out of the awards.

[At this point, the certificates were passed out.]

With all due respect for Attorney General Smith and the Justice Department and all the others in our drug abuse program here in the attempt to intercept and keep drugs from crossing our borders and coming into the country, I think we all know that the real victory will only come not when we keep on trying -- just trying to take the drug away from the customer -- when we take the customers away from the drugs. And that's when we'll win this fight.

Now, before anyone leaves the room, there's one more piece of business. As part of our drug awareness campaign and our national strategy, I will now sign a proclamation designating the week of September 23d through the 29th as National Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Week. And I want to thank Senator Chiles, who sponsored the proclamation in the Senate, and Congressman Bennett, who sponsored it in the House. And would they please come up here and join us?

I know that both of you have a strong personal interest in this proclamation, and we're grateful to you for it. Now, it's time for me to stop talking and start writing. [Laughter]

[At this point, the President signed the proclamation.]

There is now a National Drug Abuse Week.

Representative Bennett. Thank you, sir.

The President. Thank you. And now the deed is done. [Laughter] I'll go back to work.

Note: The President spoke at 10:50 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Proclamation 5236 -- National Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Week, 1984

September 21, 1984

By the President of the United States

of America

A Proclamation

During the past two decades, the use of illegal drugs in the United States spread at an unprecedented rate and reached into every segment of our society. The youth-oriented drug culture was foreign to most of our adult population. We lacked accurate information about the hazards of some of the most widely used drugs, and our efforts to combat the lies, misconceptions, and moral confusion surrounding drug abuse lacked credibility. There was a feeling of inevitability regarding widespread drug use and uncertainty over what was the right thing to do.

The early 1980s have brought a dramatic change. People no longer believe that drug abuse is inevitable. There is growing recognition that by working together to eliminate the abuse of drugs, we can make a real difference in the lives of our children and a better future for America.

One of the most effective weapons we have against drug abuse is our ability to communicate the truth about drugs to the user and the potential user. Research and the personal experience of families across the Nation are expanding our knowledge of drug abuse and how to stop it. This new knowledge is being used by parents, community volunteers, local officials, teachers, health care professionals, and young people themselves. These are the individuals who are closest to current potential drug users, and they can have the greatest influence in preventing the abuse of drugs.

Across America, all levels of government, businesses, educational institutions, civic groups, and individual citizens are organizing activities which will help persons of all ages to say ``no'' to drug abuse. These Americans are committed to raising the awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and creating a positive environment in which drug abuse is unacceptable behavior.

To call attention to these important efforts, the Congress, by House Joint Resolution 529, has designated the week beginning September 23, 1984, as ``National Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Week'' and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week beginning September 23, 1984, as National Drug Abuse Education and Prevention Week, and I call upon all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Let all of us seek every opportunity to learn the truth about drug abuse and join in the national fight to create a drug-free America.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 21st day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and ninth.

Ronald Reagan

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:18 p.m., September 21, 1984]