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Just Say No

As part of the War on Drugs in the United States, the slogan of “Just Say No” was created. During the 1980s and 1990s, children throughout the nation were encouraged to abstain from any drug use by simply saying no to those who might pressure them. This message, coined during the presidential term of Ronald Reagan, was championed by his wife, First Lady Nancy Reagan. The slogan was eventually picked up by popular culture, making its way into television shows targeting children and adolescents. Just Say NoThe goal was to educate children and parents alike about peer pressure and the impact it can have on the individual. By giving children a tool to stand up to those pressuring them, it hoped to encourage abstinence from any drug use.

Eventually, the “Just Say No” program expanded overseas. Nancy Reagan worked with the wives of leaders of 30 countries around the world in the “First Ladies Conference on Drug Abuse” to develop an international approach to drug use prevention. Reagan also relied upon the efforts of long-established organizations including the Girl Scouts of America and Kiwanis Club International to further the cause. Despite all these efforts, there is no clear link between Reagan’s efforts and a decline in drug abuse among young people. While the rates of drug use by high school students did decline during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, there is no way to connect it to his wife’s actions.

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