Marijuana shock ads won’t work: public health expert

Rather than blanket mass media with ineffective fearmongering cannabis ads, more attention should be focused on targeting nuanced messaging toward those at greatest risk of problematic use, including youth, a public health expert says.

Speaking at a research symposium in Edmonton Tuesday, University of Calgary department of community health sciences assistant professor Rebecca Haines-Saah said that while governments are compelled to deliver public service announcements there is greater benefit to targeted intervention. 

“I think we need to realize that these (advertisements) can maybe change attitudes and raise awareness but they don’t change substance use behaviours, in particular substance use that is problematic,” she said.

Haines-Saah said problematic substance use is multi-faceted and can be tied up with things like genetic vulnerability and social context like poverty, trauma, violence and discrimination.

Pointing to recently released ads in Manitoba as an example of what she says is simply “fearmongering,” Haines-Saah said that while some of her colleagues

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