From the Director, Stephanie Strutner
I’ve often stressed to our volunteers the importance of advocacy. People frequently respond by saying, “how can little me make a difference?” Well, here is your answer.
On May 1, 2013, I shared information with you about products the retailer, Urban Outfitters, was selling online and in their stores. Coincidentally, this came to my attention the day before the Knoxville store was set to open on May 2. I was hopeful the East Tennessee addition to the retail chain would not stock these products glorifying the misuse of prescription drugs; however, upon perusing their shelves on opening day, I came to realize they were ever-present and prominently displayed.
The products were visual representations of prescription pill bottles in the form of shot glasses, coffee mugs, can koozies, and shirts. They contained messages which promoted and glorified prescription drug misuse. As a coalition, we advocated to the Urban Outfitters CEO, including the local store (ASAP letter posted at www.ASAPofAnderson.org) to stop selling these products for the safety of our community. Citing local conditions and identifying data illustrating the significant negative effect prescription drug misuse has had on our society, economy, and families in East Tennessee, we obviously made our point. Other coalitions across the state and nation joined in a similar effort.
On June 6, I decided to visit Urban Outfitters again to see if our advocacy had made a difference. To my excitement, the products were no longer available on their shelves! I spoke with the store manager who was not able to comment. Later, I checked online to find the products were no longer available for purchase. On June 14, Urban Outfitters announced through CNN that they would discontinue offering the products.
This change by the retailer is a step in the right direction as coalitions work tirelessly to engage in environmental change to increase awareness that the misuse of prescription drugs is not safe simply because the medication originated from a doctor. Our effort is already a monumental task and images such as these undermine positive efforts made across the country.
I believe this product repeal is an excellent illustration of how the 20 minutes you took to respond in your own way to the CEO and Chairman of this company made a difference in East Tennessee. To each of you who took time to share this message, I would like to say thank you!
Our apathy is our own worst enemy. As Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Share your voice—be heard!