Facebook Twitter

UTAH KICKS OFF ANTI-DRUG RED RIBBON WEEK

SHARE UTAH KICKS OFF ANTI-DRUG RED RIBBON WEEK

Individuals need to "care about the treatment and help" of young drug abusers, according to Utah first lady Colleen Bangerter. At the same time, they must continue to fight drug abuse.

Bangerter spoke during the kickoff of Red Ribbon Week, a weeklong campaign against drug abuse sponsored by the Utah Federation for a Drug-Free Youth. The week was officially opened Monday by a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Eagle Gate Plaza near the ZCMI Center in ceremonies presided over by federation president Gary Swensen.About 100 students from West High School wore T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing this year's drug-free slogan, "It's Hot to Not."

"I'm so proud of the young people here today wearing T-shirts and red ribbons," Bangerter said. "It reminds us we are making progress in the fight against drugs, but we need the help of everyone."

Salt Lake County Commission Chairman Mike Stewart said the number of Utah youth using drugs has dropped 30-40 percent over the past year. And although some of them are "going back into alcohol" use, he said they are generally better off than they have been.

"Let's abstain from drugs and sustain the battle (against drugs)," he said.

"The most serious problem we have in law enforcement is narcotics," said Deputy Chief Charles Shepherd of the Salt Lake County sheriff's office. "I'm convinced that until the punishment is as great as the profit, we won't stop drugs. I am pleased that the president wants to build more prisons and make it tough on users and suppliers."

Salt Lake Police Major O.J. Peck said, "This is about involvement by all the people. Without them we're helpless and will keep getting behind further and further."

Kenny Yarbrough sang a number called "Reaching Out." He and Dan Waldous wrote it specifically for Utah's anti-drug campaign.

The plaza was decorated with red ribbons, the symbol chosen for the anti-drug campaign when federal agent Enrique Camarena was murdered by drug dealers in 1985. In addition to local dignitaries who spoke before cutting the red ribbon, members of West High School's marching band and an improvisation group from the school performed. At the end of the ceremony, students released 50 red balloons, which Swensen said "symbolize the efforts of the 50 states in our country to fight drugs."