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A youthful blonde approaches a circle of teenagers at an outdoor party and asks, "What about me?"
"You want meth, kid? Here's your meth," says a man emerging from the shadows with a glass pipe. The camera cuts to two lecherous-looking men, a squealing baby and a close-up of the blonde with sunken eyes and oozing scabs as the voice-over says, "And here's your meth dealer, your meth boyfriends, your meth baby, and don't forget, your meth face."
Ads like this have invaded prime-time television, covered billboards and saturated radio shows in Montana as part of the Montana Meth Project, a shock-and-awe style campaign graphically depicting the ugly underbelly of methamphetamine use.
And Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. wants to blitz Utah with a similar ad campaign, though some in Utah's drug treatment and prevention community are skeptical about Montana's meth-fighting methods.
"We will be working on a meth initiative," Huntsman promised. "This is becoming an epidemic that must be addressed communitywide."
The Montana project is funded by tech billionaire Thomas Siebel, who has personally overseen the creation of the ads meant to stop teens from trying meth by terrifying them.
Huntsman and Siebel hobnobbed at a recent Western Governors Association meeting and afterward Siebel accepted an invitation to come to Utah.
He is expected to arrive at the end of the month, in an attempt to persuade the governor's meth task force that his prevention campaign is worth adopting.
But members of the task force say the ads target the wrong population and unrealistically portray all meth addicts as twitchy, pock-marked junkies who will do anything for their next fix.
"There are some who think they're a little hard-hitting for Utah. My kids didn't. They watched them, and it got their attention," said Patrick Fleming, a task force member and Salt Lake County substance abuse director. "But kids are so literal. The fear is that they'll be quick to discount depictions of deteriorating teens with scabs on their faces, because they know kids who have used meth two or three times and who look pretty normal."
Peg Shea, the Montana Meth Project's executive director, said teens have told her the ads are like a train wreck, unpleasant to watch but impossible to turn away from.
One TV spot shows a girl fantasizing about being killed in a car crash on the way to the party where she first tried meth. Death, she suggests, would be preferable to addiction.
Radio ads feature real addicts, such as 15-year-old Cindy who prostituted herself for the drug. The print messages are no less jarring. One pictures a dirty toilet in a public stall with the words: "No one thinks they'll lose their virginity here. Meth will change that."
Huntsman has shown a few of the ads to his 15-year-old son William.
"The next thing he said is 'No, I don't want to see any more. I get the message,'" Huntsman said. "They really are powerful."
He hopes such an unflinching look at a drug that many don't understand could reduce its wide ranging impacts on the state.
"Our prisons, health care, human services, social services, even the level of productivity in our economy is impacted by meth," Huntsman said.
A form of speed that is smoked, snorted or injected, meth is a potent stimulant with long-lasting effects. It is cheap and easy to purchase, appealing to teens, soccer moms, blue-collar workers and club hoppers alike.
Once a problem confined to Western mountain states, meth has made inroads east. But Utah has wrestled with the so-called meth "epidemic" for years. And despite efforts to contain it, the drug remains the No. 1 illegal substance of choice as reported by Utahns in public treatment - a rank it has held for five straight years.
Meth changes a person's brain chemistry, disrupts sleep patterns, can lead to malnutrition, paranoia and hallucinations.
Some addicts develop sores from obsessively clawing at their skin and the drug's drying effect on saliva glands can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. But these conditions are more closely linked to homelessness, abusive relationships and the underground criminal lifestyle that can accompany drug use, said Luciano Colonna, director of Utah's Harm Reduction Project. "Most kids are probably living at home and enjoy more stable lifestyles. It will be awhile before they sink to that level. . . . We're dealing with the mind of adolescence. They don't look very far ahead."
Colonna also said, "The Montana campaign hasn't been around long enough to know if it works."
Siebel founded the Meth Project in February 2005 and the first ads were released in September. The project also has 150 volunteers who make presentations and participate in public events.
The project is now the state's biggest advertiser and Shea estimates that every teen sees the ads at least three times each week.
In March, the project conducted a survey that showed Montana residents were much more aware of the consequences of taking meth. But Shea understands the survey results may not convince everyone.
"The whole concept of behavior change takes time," she said. "That is why prevention is so hard to fund, it is not an immediate production."
The governor's office point person, Michele Christiansen, said any similar Utah project would need a large amount of cash both from government and private sources. But before searching for the money, Huntsman needs to get the community on board.
Huntsman has the backing of state Rep. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, whom he asked to participate in Siebel's visit to Utah.
"I think it is absolutely right on. I would love to see something like this in Utah," she said. "Get [people] thinking about it before they even want to try it."
Task force members also applaud the governor for taking a leadership role, but argue that any Utah campaign should target young mothers instead of teens.
Jones agrees, saying she is heartbroken about a new law enforcement acronym: "dipmoms," which stands for "dad in prison, mom on meth."
"It is sad that we now have a new name for this insidious problem."