Media coverage of cocaine and its impact on usage patterns

David P. Fan, William B. Holway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Anti-drug efforts in the USA have mainly focused on reducing supply through interdiction and law enforcement. These efforts notwithstanding, the perceived availability of cocaine by high school seniors gradually increased from 1977 to 1991. In the early 1980s, cocaine use by this group was fairly constant. There was a brief rise from 1983 to 1986 which could be ascribed to the introduction of crack. Then, there was a steady drop from 6.7 percent in 1986 to 1.4 percent in 1991 which could be explained by the press presenting salient anti-cocaine messages to high school seniors. The drop was not due to 'lifestyle' factors like religious commitment or number of hours spent on homework. The strong influence of persuasive information suggests that drug control policy is likely to be more effective when directed at demand than at supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-162
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
• Funded in part by U.S. Public Health Service Research Grant MH39610. Thanks to Prof. Dennis Cook, Department of Applied Statistics, University of Minnesota, and to Prof. James Stimson, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota for assistance with the statistics.


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