Home Secretary to target children with anti-drug ads

Jacqui Smith, the new Home Office minister, is considering plans to target primary school children in an anti-drugs advertising campaigns.

The plans form part of a three-month consultation document “Drugs: Our Community, Your Say” unveiled today (Wednesday) to overhaul the Drug Strategy.

The Home Office has also suggested using shock tactics in future drug information advertising and education programmes. Smith plans to double the £5.65m invested annually in the Frank awareness campaign.

The department believes that although the Frank campaign has achieved “some success”, chiefly among its target group of 11 to 18-year-olds and focusing on Class A drug and cannabis use, other groups are overlooked.

The consultation document outlines “potential” for using public health campaigns to address aspects of drug harm falling outside the Frank activity. These include information campaigns about alcohol targeted at under 18s with the aim of deterring future drug users.

The department believes that highlighting the dangers of volatile substance abuse – such as sniffing glue or aerosols – “needs” to form an integral part of all public health and education campaigns and admits that parents are a key audience for messages because they have a huge influence over their children.

It suggests harm reduction information and advice for problem drug users – advice traditionally delivered by non-government organisations and charities – can be tackled by Home Office campaigns and says that more national advertising campaigns could be targeted around lifestyle groups such as clubbers.

The current Drug Strategy, which claims to have delivered a 24% decline in drug use among young people since 1998, will end in March next year.

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