Just Say No

80s-90s advertising campaign, part of the U.S. War on Drugs

"Just Say No" was an advertising campaign during the 1980s and early 1990s. It was part of the U.S. "War on Drugs." The campaign wanted to discourage children from using illegal drug(s) and offered various ways of saying "no". "Just Say No" was also used by other organizations, such as DARE, to discourage violence and premarital sex. The slogan was created by First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan.[1]

First Lady Nancy Reagan speaking at a "Just Say No" Rally in Los Angeles.



The campaign started in the 1970s as part of the National Institutes of Health's program to stop drug abuse. It was started by Professor Richard I. Evans from the University of Houston. Professor Evans thought that if you taught students how to resist peer pressure, then you would have less bad behavior.[2]

While her husband ran to be President, Nancy Reagan joined this movement. In 1980, she visited Daytop Village in New York City. After her trip, she wanted teach youth about drugs and drug abuse.[1] After her husband became the United States, she went back to Daytop Village. She told them that she would tell others how dangerous drug abuse is.

Understanding what drugs can do to your children, understanding peer pressure and understanding why they turn to drugs is...the first step in solving the problem.[1]



Robert Cox and David Cantor made the slogan "Just Say No." They were advertising executives at Needham, Harper & Steers/USA in the early 1980s. [3] Nancy Reagan first used the phrase in 1984 when she visited Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland, California. A schoolgirl asked what she should do if her friends or classmates offered her drugs. [4] Soon "Just Say No" clubs became common within schools and anti-drug programs in schools. In these clubs, children promised not to use drugs.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Mrs. Reagan's Crusade". Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. Archived from the original on April 27, 2006.
  2. Evans, R.I. (in press). Just say no. In Breslow, L., Encyclopedia of Public Health (p. 1354). New York: Macmillan.
  3. Roberts, Sam (2016-06-22). "Robert Cox, Man Behind the 'Just Say No' Antidrug Campaign, Dies at 78". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-16.
  4. "Remarks at the Nancy Reagan Drug Abuse Center Benefit Dinner in Los Angeles, California". web.archive.org. 2016-03-05. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2023-02-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. "Nancy Reagan Biography :: National First Ladies' Library". www.firstladies.org. Archived from the original on 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2023-02-16.