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Help Needed To Fight Drugs, Says First Lady

Families need help keeping their kids off drugs, Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday, criticizing Republicans in Congress for cutting a school anti-drug program.

“Every family needs help in that effort,” the first lady said. “It is not always so easy to do by yourself.”

Safe and Drug-Free Schools money goes to school programs that give children the tools, like role models, needed to fight peer pressure, Hillary Clinton said.

“It sounds so simple to ‘just say no,”’ she said, using the anti-drug message championed by former first lady Nancy Reagan. “When you’re a teenager that is not always the easiest thing to do.”

Republicans say the $482 million Safe and Drug-Free Schools program is mismanaged, sending money out scatter-shot to programs that don’t work.

Some Republicans also have accused the Clinton administration of failing to stress an anti-drug message in spite of studies indicating young people’s drug use is again on the rise.

The administration contends that cuts in the federal program also would hit police-sponsored programs, like DARE, that many Republicans favor.

As Hillary Clinton met at the White House with children from a suburban Virginia DARE program, President Clinton was in North Carolina speaking against youthful smoking. Aides said he would soon order the Food and Drug Administration to regulate smoking among youngsters.

Both events appeared aimed at portraying Democrats as more concerned about children as the election year approaches.

“Cutting our one federally funded school drug prevention program would be very foolish,” Hillary Clinton said.

The House voted last week to cut $266 million, or about 55 percent, from the drug-free schools program in 1996. Clinton is expected to veto the bill if the Senate does not change it.