"Just Say No" was an advertising campaign, part of the U.S. "War on Drugs", prevalent during the 1980s and early 1990s, to discourage children from engaging in illegal recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying no. The slogan was created and championed by First Lady Nancy Reagan during her husband's presidency.
In 1982 while visiting a school Mrs. Reagan was asked by a schoolgirl what to do if she was offered drugs. The first lady responded by saying, "Just say no". Hence, three little words became a message and a campaign against drugs.
Just Say No club organizations formed within schools and school-run anti-drug programs soon became common, in which young people make pacts not to experiment with drugs.
Nancy Reagan was asked about her efforts in the campaign, and said:
Nancy Reagan first became involved during a campaign trip in 1980. She recalls feeling impressed by a need to educate the youth about drugs and drug abuse. Upon her husband's election to the presidency, she returned to Daytop Village and outlined how she wished to help educate the youth.
She stated in 1981 that her best role would be to bring awareness about the dangers of drug abuse:
According to research conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, fewer young people in the 1980s were using illicit drugs.
High school seniors using cannabis dropped from 50.1% in 1978 to 36% in 1987, to 12% in 1991 and the percentage of students using other drugs decreased similarly.
Psychedelic drug use dropped from 11% to 6%, cocaine from 12% to 10%, and heroin from 1% to 0.5%.
Although Mrs. Reagan's campaign slogan was adopted in many young children's clubs such as The Girl Scouts of America, The Kiwana Club and many, many more her campaign did draw some criticism. Nancy Reagan's approach to promoting drug awareness was labeled simplistic by critics who argued that the solution was reduced to a catch phrase, but those who criticized it how can they explain the drop in the numbers of those using?
How many of you know that LaToya Jackson became spokesperson for the campaign in 1987 and recorded a song entitled, "Just Say No"?
pic from Wiki