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Health and Medicine

Washington Health Dept. Receives Community Backlash Over Yakima Billboard 

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Cool By Default
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A billboard in Yakima is part of the Washington state Department of Health's campaign against marijuana usage. Some community members are calling it insensitive.

Washington’s state Department of Health will remove a billboard deemed offensive after public backlash. The billboard in question was an initiative from the Department’s Marijuana Prevention & Education Program.

It depicts a group of Latino youth with the words: “We don’t need pot to have fun, we’re Hispanics… we’re cool by default.”

The billboard has been up since the beginning of June and was due to be removed on Friday but Julie Graham, a spokesperson for the department, said they will work to take it down before then.

“It’s clear that it’s not achieving what we wanted to achieve,” Graham said. “We’re really sorry for that. This is going to be a lesson for us in how to make sure we are considering the broader community.”

According to Graham, the billboard was developed with the help of 60 Latino youth and was part of a larger effort by the Department of Health to reach young adults with messages that promote healthy habits.