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Is Urban Outfitters Promoting Rx Drug Abuse?

By Sarah Beller 05/02/13

The hip clothing store is under fire for a new line of "ironic" Rx drug-themed drinkware.

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An "ironic" flask. Photo via

Urban Outfitters, the popular clothing store for the young-and-hip, has once again created a stir for "making light of" substance abuse. The company, which sparked outrage in the past with pro-drinking and pro-ana t-shirts, has now come out with a line of pint glasses, flasks and shot glasses made to look like prescription pill bottles. The Partnership at has started a campaign to have the line removed, asking supporters to sign a petition and stating that the products "make light of prescription drug misuse and abuse, a dangerous behavior that is responsible for more deaths in the United States each year than heroin and cocaine combined." The nationwide epidemic has increased 33% in the past five years, and is particularly on the rise among teens, with one in four admitting to having misused or abused a prescription drug. "Combined with alcohol, the misuse and abuse of prescription medications can be especially dangerous, making the Urban Outfitter Rx pint and shot glasses and flasks even more disturbing," says the Partnership. "Tongue-in-cheek products that normalize and promote prescription drug abuse only serve to reinforce the misperception about the dangers associated with abusing medicine and put more teens at risk." The organization has posted the email of the CEO/President of Urban Outfitters, Richard A. Hayneon its website, urging people to ask him "to remove these products from their stores and website immediately."

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Sarah Beller is a writer and the Executive Director at Filter. She has written about drug policy with a focus on harm reduction for Substance.comThe Fix and Salon. She has worked as a social worker with formerly incarcerated people in New York for a number of years. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’sThe HairpinThe ToastReductressThe Rumpus and other publications. You can find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.

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