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Moore, Joan (2006) From Drugnet Europe. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 20, Winter 2006, p. 30.

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Responses: Cigarettes, alcohol and colonisation

Cited from Peter Thomas, Drugnet Europe, No. 55, July–September 2006 

‘I have learned not to try to convince people about what to do. I consider the task of trying to convince others a lack of personal respect, an attempt at colonisation’, wrote José Saramago. The reticence of the Portuguese Nobel prize-winning author provided the perfect challenge to health professionals active in the field of licit and illicit drugs attending the first EMCDDA expert meeting on ‘environmental prevention strategies’ held in Lisbon from 29–30 June.

This was the first EMCDDA event to focus on legal psychoactive substances, in the context of the agency’s current task to examine polydrug use. Presentations were delivered on tobacco and alcohol regulation, and on the evidence base for environmental approaches to psychoactive substance use prevention. Case studies described environmental approaches to reducing smoking and drinking in Ireland, Malta, Poland and the UK.

Professionals working in the fields of both licit and illicit psychoactive substances – disciplines often kept apart – were able to debate topics such as the potential cross-substance effects of smoking bans, aggressive marketing which encourages binge drinking; and the poor impact of school education and health promotion campaigns, particularly those demonising drugs. Based on discussions at the event, evidence suggests that ‘macro-environmental’ measures can offer better value prevention than those focused on persuading the individual. However, regulatory measures can face obstacles, such as the political resistance to universal measures and defensive lobbying by vendors. While colonisation of the mind is rarely the agenda, what is certain is that regulation has a valuable role to play in changing cultural attitudes towards psychoactive substances, whether the laudanum or absinthe of the past, or today’s alcopops, cigarettes and vertical drinking. A full follow-up report of the event will be published in the autumn.


Drugs-Lex – Europe’s diverse drug-driving laws presented at Pompidou Group seminar

Cited from Brendan Hughes, Drugnet Europe, No. 55, July–September 2006

The latest ELDD ‘Topic overview’ (http://eldd.emcdda.europa.eu), describing the laws and penalties regarding drugs and driving across the EU, was presented at the Pompidou Group’s ‘Third seminar on road traffic and drugs’ held in Strasbourg from 10–11 July. …The ‘Topic overview’ updates and expands on groundwork carried out in 2003 (see ELDD ‘Legal reports’). The new document examines: the status of the offence (criminal/non-criminal); the substances forbidden by law; whether police may stop to test at random or only on suspicion; and whether there is zero tolerance (any trace of drugs) or whether a certain level of impairment is required before prosecution. The paper also looks at the various sanctions available by country, particularly the range of fines and prison sentences and the possible period for suspension of a driving licence. The overview shows that, although all Member States list ‘drug driving’ as an offence, the conditions for its prosecution and the range of possible penalties can vary massively between countries.

Drugnet Europe is the quarterly newsletter of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). An electronic version of Drugnet Europe is available on the EMCDDA website at www.emcdda.europa.eu

If you would like to receive a hard copy of the current or future issues of Drugnet Europe, please contact: Drug Misuse Research Division, Health Research Board, Knockmaun House, 42–47 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 676 1176 ext 127; Email: dmrd@hrb.ie

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