HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html 'Just Say No' Drugs Campaign Dropped
Pubdate: Mon, 04 Mar 2002
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2002 Telegraph Group Limited
Author: Tom Peterkin


Scotland's "Just say no" approach to tackling drug taking is to be 
abandoned in favour of educating young people about the dangers of 
substance abuse.

Concern over the rising tide of drug-related deaths and the increasing 
number of drug users has prompted a dramatic shift in policy and the 
Scottish Executive to reject an authoritarian approach.

Ministers will announce a new drugs communication strategy this month 
designed to help young people make informed decisions about drug taking.

Richard Simpson, the Deputy Justice Minister, said yesterday: "The only 
time you will hear me use terms such as 'war on drugs' or 'just say no' is 
to denigrate them."

He stressed he was keen to avoid the impression that the Executive was 
going soft on drugs, but said young people must be given the responsibility 
to make informed decisions.

Dr Simpson, a former prison doctor, said that he disagreed with giving jail 
sentences to drug addicts. He said: "It neither addresses their offending 
behaviour nor does it cut crime."

But the new approach fuelled fears among some anti-drugs campaigners that 
the Executive could end up promoting drug use.

Gaille McCann, co-founder of Mothers Against Drugs, said: "The Executive 
needs to be very careful with its message. They are in danger of promoting 
drug use, which opens up more avenues for people to experiment."

The Executive has decided to take the initiative following the release of 
figures which show there are 55,000 drug users in Scotland - almost double 
previous estimates of 30,000. More than 290 people die each year as a 
result of abusing drugs.

Research also shows that at least 40 per cent of schoolchildren between 12 
and 15 have been offered drugs.

The new strategy will attempt to combat much of the ignorance that 
surrounds drug issues in Scotland and make the public more aware of the 
work being done to tackle drugs and of the drugs services that are available.
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