Christmas cocaine crackdown

Courtesy of HeatherJox3 via DeviantArt

by Adam Bell

The Scottish Government has launched a Christmas campaign to reign in the use of Britain’s most acceptable class A drug.

Spread across 140 Scottish pubs, targeting 18-24 year-olds, the Know the Score campaign will promote the message that you do not know what you are getting with cocaine.

“Young people often see cocaine as a harmless, even glamorous drug, a problem which is compounded by its falling cost and increased levels of availability across the country,” explained Nick Smith, Manager of the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership, who are backing the campaign.

Surveys have shown that cocaine is the second most used drug amongst young people, and that the majority believe the drug to be relatively safe.

The government campaign will seek to show the truth about the drug, and the real side effects, including sweats, paranoia, anxiety, chest pains, a raised heart rate which can lead to heart attacks and an greater risk of strokes.

Research has shown that whilst both male and female users are at a greater risk of having a heart attack, it is males who are twice as likely to die from taking the drug.

One reason behind the campaign is the revelation that Scotland has one of the highest user rates of the drug in the world: according to a United Nations report published in June, 3.7% of the population are users.

Prof Graeme Pearson, from Glasgow University‘s Unit for the Study of Serious Organised Crime, highlights another issue: “Over the last decade the purity values of the drug have fallen very significantly. Ten years ago purity values were over 40% – today they’re below 20%, sometimes 10%, and as a result the price has also fallen.”

The campaign with take place on two fronts: first there will be a radio, cinema and online advertising campaign costing £269,000.

The second is in the field, with weekend events scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights for the next four weeks.

The field team will display campaign material in all participating venues, while questioning young people about their experiences and opinions of the drug, and offering advice.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Community Safety, confirmed: “The key message of this campaign is clear – you don’t know what you’re getting when you take cocaine. Cocaine is not a harmless drug; the risks to health of individuals and communities are as serious as they are significant and that’s why this festive period we are taking the message across Scotland to highlight the dangers.”

Alongside the Alcohol and Drug Partnership, the campaign has received backing from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the National Union of Students and Young Scot.

The weekend events start in Edinburgh this Friday and Saturday [12th & 13th November], before moving to Glasgow the weekend after.