Anti-pot billboard aimed towards Hispanics is taken down amidst controversy

7-26-17 UPDATE:

YAKIMA, WA - It was supposed to deliver a message of prevention, but instead created conflict. A billboard from the Washington State Department of Health located in Yakima on North 1st Street reads: "We don't need pot to have fun, we're Hispanics; we're cool by default."

The Department of Health is now apologizing.

"Clearly this campaign might have been effective in reaching the youth, but it is clear that it missed the mark and was offensive for others," said Julie Graham, communications with the Washington State Health Department.

60 Hispanic youth from the Yakima area helped create the message as part of the Department of Health's statewide anti-pot campaign, Listen To Your Selfie.

"It was basically a group of teens who were looking to figure out what kind of messages and images would be effective at reaching their peers," said Graham.

Viewers chimed in on Facebook, one viewer commenting "Let's aim at all youth...common sense." Another commented, "Should have just left out the "we're Hispanics" and it would be ok."

The Department of Health says they're taking this as a learning experience.

"We'll take what we have learned and try to come up with something that works better and might have a broader application across the state," said Graham.

The billboard was supposed to come down on Friday, but because of the controversy, it was taken down today.


YAKIMA, WA (AP) - The Washington Department of Health is apologizing after some people were offended by anti-marijuana messaging aimed at Latino youth in the Yakima area.

The public health campaign includes advertisements and at least one billboard that says, "We don't need pot to have fun," and "We're Hispanics ... We're cool by default."

Health Department spokeswoman Julie Graham says it's clear from the reaction on social media that some people were offended. She says the department is sorry for that and is evaluating whether the message needs to be changed.

She says the ads are part of a statewide effort to prevent teens from using marijuana. A group of about 60 local youth helped craft the message running in Yakima, which they thought would be effective in their demographic.

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