Last week, President Trump declared opioid addiction a national public health emergency. But John Oliver argued on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight that his proposed solutions to the crisis – which claims 140 lives a day in the U.S. – are “underwhelming” at best.
In his White House speech Thursday, Trump proposed launching a widespread ad campaign – “really tough, really big, really great advertising” – to prevent addiction altogether. “If we can teach young people, and people generally, not to start, it’s really, really easy not to take ’em,” he said.
But Oliver pointed to the failed 1980s “Just Say No” campaign and noted that this proposal does nothing to help those already struggling with addiction. “It’s kind of like seeing someone neck-deep in quicksand then putting up a ‘Don’t Do Quicksand’ sign,” he cracked.
The host also criticized Trump’s failure to boost the Public Health Emergency Fund, which currently has a balance of just over $56,000. Meanwhile, the federal government estimates the crisis costs roughly $75 billion per year.
“Trump has finally chimed in with his two cents about how to tackle this crisis, and it involves allotting for the 2.6 million Americans addicted to opioids literally about two cents each,” Oliver said. “Trump’s fix for our opioid epidemic essentially boils down to, ‘Here’s two pennies. Go throw them in a fucking mall fountain and wish your addiction away.'”