Public Health Agency Involvement in Youth-Focused Illicit Drug Policy, Planning, and Prevention at the Local Level, 1999-2003

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2008


Objectives. We examined local public health agencies’ involvement in community illicit drug policy advocacy and provision related to youths to determine the extent to which public health agencies were involved in local drug policy activities and could potentially provide an infrastructure for policy alternatives. Methods. We conducted telephone interviews from 1999 to 2003 with 1793 US public health agencies in 804 communities surrounding schools participating in the Monitoring the Future study. Respondents reported public health agency planning, priorities, and involvement in alternative drug policy advocacy and prevention activities. We examined results for variance by site sociodemographic characteristics. Results. Most students lived where public health agencies provided resources for community- and school-based drug use prevention. More than one third resided where public health agencies advocated for drug policy alternatives and more than one quarter where public health agencies were involved in juvenile drug court programs. Such activities were significantly higher in urban communities, in the West, and in sites where the proportion of African Americans was above the national average. Conclusions. Although local public health agencies could increase participation levels in drug policy alternatives, current involvement suggests that agencies may provide a base for supporting the development of public health alternatives to deterrence-based drug policies. Such a base may be more likely in communities with the highest need for such policies and services.


Retrieved February 20, 2015. From http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2007.112524

Journal Title

American Journal of Public Health