News and Notes

Compiled by John Witton and Jean O'Reilly

New Alcohol and Cancer Website

An alcohol and cancer website has been launched by the European Cancer Leagues (ECL) and European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare). 1 in 10 Europeans do not know about the connection between alcohol and cancer and 1 in 5 do not believe that there is a connection between the two according to the last EU citizens' attitudes towards alcohol Eurobarometer survey of 2010. The aim of the website is to inform European populations about the link between cancer and alcohol using data from the scientific evidence base.


User Experiences of Cutting Down

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA) has published a collection of stories from substance users in Europe about their attempts to control or reduce their consumption, Users' Voices. The review presents quotations taken from interviews with substance users in 16 countries over the period 1993–2012, gathered from local research studies, reports and websites of non-governmental organisations, articles published in peer-reviewed journals, government reports and other grey literature. Quotations are taken from chronic, long-term and marginalised drug users; others are from individuals who have managed to limit their consumption or do not fulfil common medical criteria for dependence or problem use. The quotations cover three main issues: triggers that prompt an individual to decide to reduce or stop consumption and/or to seek help; positive experiences gained from some interventions and support; and obstacles that hinder individuals who are trying to change their behaviour.


UN Report on Regional Consequences of Mexico's Drug War

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) latest report on the state of organized crime in Central America and the Caribbean, Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment, suggests Mexico's drug war is pushing organized crime towards its neighbours. The report finds that cocaine trafficking, and the violence associated with it are the main crime issues in the region and also suggests that the problem is rooted in weak governance and rule of law, and that powerful criminal networks compete for power in certain areas. Institution building and strengthening governance is seen by the UNODC report as a vital step towards countering criminal gangs' control in the region. The report proposes that national crime prevention strategies, including strategies for law enforcement action, should be devised and national efforts must be internationally co-ordinated to avoid displacement of crime problems from one area to another.


Latin American Presidents Call for Drug Debate at the UN

ABC News reports that the presidents of Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia pressed the membership of the United Nations in September to promote a debate on alternative ways to combat drug trafficking. At the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Mexican President Felipe Calderon insisted that the world body must do more if developed nations that use ‘tons and tons of drugs’ cannot reduce consumption. More than just analyze the problem, the United Nations should head ‘a profound international debate’ about ways to cut down on trafficking, he said. The Guatemala Times reports that the presidents subsequently published an open letter on October 1st addressed to the General Secretary of the UN calling for the UN to review the current system and ‘analyze all available options, including regulatory or market measures’.


Action on Compulsory Treatment in Southeast Asia

Twelve UN agencies issued a joint statement expressing concern about compulsory drug treatment centres (CCDUs) in East and Southeast Asia earlier in 2012. The statement called on the states operating these centres to close them and offered technical assistance to help them do so. The centres adopt a punitive approach to drug use, lack HIV prevention, treatment and care services and primary health care is often limited. There have also been reports of human rights violations such as forced labour in these centres. Eight ASEAN countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam – and China met in Kuala Lumpur in October at the second Regional Consultation on CCDUs jointly organized by UNODC, ESCAP and UNAIDS. The Consultation adopted a meeting report which included a set of recommendations for country-level action. Among them is a recommendation that countries should consider reviewing those laws, policies and practices that hinder access to voluntary and effective drug dependence treatment and to reallocate human and financial resources from CCDUs to voluntary community-based treatment.


More Graphic Marketing in UK to Shock Smokers to Quit

Marketing Week reports that the UK Government is to increase its use of hard-hitting marketing focusing on the health harms cigarettes cause smokers after research found that quit attempts have fallen. In a strategy document laying out the Government's marketing strategy for the next three years, the Department of Health (DoH) says it will attempt to address the ‘low sense of personal risk’ smokers associate with their habit by shocking them into quitting. The Government is to use the sort of shock tactics employed in 2004 when advertisements in the ‘oozing fat’ campaign showed smokers' arteries clogged up with fat. The impact of second-hand smoke and smoking in pregnancy will also be covered in campaigns. The DoH claims recent studies show both the ‘motivation to quit’ and quit attempts have declined because of a lack of ‘significant commitment to change’ in an uncertain economic climate that creates ‘stress and uncertainty’. The strategy is designed to be ‘anti-smoking’ and not ‘anti-smoker’. The Government will spend £13.1 million on anti-smoking marketing in the current financial year. This is down from the £15 million spent in 2011/2012, in line with the overall reduction in the Government's marcomms budget and the shift towards cheaper digital, direct and owned media channels. Campaign reports that spending on anti-smoking ads had dropped under the current Conservative-led coalition government. Anti-smoking ads were backed with a £26.7 million budget in 2008/09, which dropped to £14.6 million in 2009/10 and just £1.1 million in 2010/11.


Regulating the Legal High Market in New Zealand

Legal highs in New Zealand will undergo a costly and lengthy testing process involving human clinical trials under a strict new regime, The New Zealand Herald reports. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced new regulations for psychoactive substances which would become law by August 2013. Under the new regime, manufacturers would have to pay an application fee of about $180,000 plus testing costs of up to $2 million before any new product was deemed safe for sale – a process that could take up to two years. The Ministry of Health would regulate the new testing regime, which was likely to include clinical trials on human subjects in New Zealand. The regime would also introduce new penalties, including up to eight years in prison for importing, manufacturing or supplying analogues of illegal drugs, and up to two years in prison for importing, manufacturing or supplying unapproved substances. People caught with unapproved products could be fined $300, but it would not be a criminal offence so young people would not be penalised. Mr Dunne said the new rules would ensure products were safe for the people who wanted to use and enjoy them. ‘But we are putting in place some pretty strict standards and restrictions to make sure that only the safest come through the net.’ He expected there would be a drop in the number of products available, but denied it was a ‘back-door way’ to ban all products.


2012 Emcdda Scientific Paper Awards

The winners of the 2012 European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA) scientific paper award were announced on 26 September in the margins of the International Society of Addiction Journal Editors' annual meeting held at the EMCDDA in Lisbon. The prize celebrates scientific writing and distinguishes high-quality research in the field of illicit drugs. For 2012 four groups were invited to nominate papers: European research societies; EMCDDA Scientific Committee members; the national focal points of the Reitox network; and European drug research peer-reviewed journals. The 2012 winners are Dr Traute Demirakca (Germany), Dr Johanna Gripenberg (Sweden) and Dr Katy M.E. Turner (United Kingdom).


New Website on Alcohol-Related Harm in Australia

The National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) is a national coalition of health and community organisations from across Australia that has been formed with the goal of reducing alcohol-related harm. It has developed a new website which has information about NAAA and reports on recent summits and meetings.


Tobacco Display Ban in Norway Upheld

Reuters reports that Norway's point of sale ban on tobacco products has been upheld after a Norwegian court ruled against a legal challenge by the cigarette company Philip Morris. Philip Morris argued that the ban, which has been in force since 2010, infringed upon European free trade laws. The court rejected this complaint and said the display ban did not constitute a barrier to trade, and could be justified for public health reasons. The Norwegian government has said that it now plans to follow Australia by developing legislation on plain packaging.


California Legislation Aimed at Preventing Overdose Deaths

California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation seeking to reduce the number of preventable deaths resulting from accidental drug overdoses in September. The passage of Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's AB 472, the ‘911 Good Samaritan bill,’ received bipartisan support and makes California the tenth state in the US to take action to reduce accidental overdose fatalities by removing barriers to accessing emergency health services. The bill was co-sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance, California ACLU and the Health Officers Association of California. The law takes effect on January 1, 2013. To encourage people to seek emergency health services in the event of an accidental overdose, California's 911 Good Samaritan law provides limited protections from charge and prosecution for low-level drug law violations, including possession of small amounts of drugs. Those who sell drugs are not protected under the new law. The law is intended to send a strong message that accidental drug overdose is a health issue, and that fear of criminal justice involvement should not be a barrier to calling 911 in the event of an overdose.


Limerick of the Month

We run a single limerick each month, chosen according to the Commissioning Editor and Editor-in-Chief's tastes. Please feel free to send us some should our pages inspire you to this form of poetry.

Griffith Edwards did nurture Addiction,

A journal that sometimes caused friction,

But the work it reported

Consistently sorted

The facts about drugs from the fiction.

Sheila Blume

Conferences and Events

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry 23rd Annual Meeting and Symposium, 6–9 December 2012, Aventura, Florida, USA. Website:

Group Relations Conference on Authority and Leadership in Recovery from Addiction, 11–13 January 2013, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Website:

Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) 2013 Annual Conference, 16–20 January 2013, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

Psychotherapy Associates 39th Annual Advanced International Winter Symposium, 27–30 January 2013, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Website:

5th International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy (ICDDT), 18–21 February 2013, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Website:

Preventive Medicine 2013 (American College of Preventive Medicine), 20–23 February 2013, Phoenix-Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Website:

American College of Psychiatrists Annual Meeting, 20–24 February 2013, Grand Hyatt Kauai, Hawaii, USA. Website:

ASCPT 2013 (American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics), 6–9 March 2013, JW Marriott Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Website:

American Academy of Health Behavior 2013 Meeting, 17–20 March 2013, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Website:

Society of Behavioral Medicine's Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions, 20–23 March 2013, San Francisco, California, USA. Website:

Alcohol Policy 16, 3–5 April 2013, Washington, DC, USA. Website:

21st European Congress of Psychiatry, 6–9 April 2013, Nice, France. Website:

American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) 29th Annual Meeting, 11–14 April 2013, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Website:

International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses (ISPN) 6th Annual Psychopharmacology Institute and ISPN 15th Annual Conference, 16–20 April 2013, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Website:

American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) 44th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference, 25–28 April 2013, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Website:

Faculty of Addictions Psychiatry Annual Conference 2013, 2–3 May 2013, Newcastle, UK. Website:

Global Addiction & EUROPAD Joint Conference 2013, 7–10 May 2013, Pisa, Italy. Website:

American Psychiatric Association (APA) 166th Annual Meeting, 18–22 May 2013, San Francisco, California, USA. Website:

Society for Clinical Trials (SCT) 34th Annual Meeting, 19–22 May 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Website:

Harm Reduction International Conference 2013, 9–12 June 2013, Vilnius, Lithuania. Website:

College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Meeting, 15–20 June 2013, Hilton Bayfront Hotel, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

21st World Congress for Social Psychiatry, 29 June–3 July 2013, Lisbon, Portugal. Website:

The Royal College of Psychiatrists' International Congress 2013, 2–5 July 2–13, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Website:

The International Narcotics Research Conference, 14–18 July 2013, Cairns, North Queensland, Australia. Website:

Canadian Psychiatric Association Annual Conference, 26–28 September 2013, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Website:

26th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress, 5–9 October 2013, Barcelona, Spain. Website:

3rd International Congress on Dual Disorder, 23–26 October 2013, Barcelona, Spain. Website:

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) National Conference, 9–13 November 2013, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Website:

News and Notes welcomes contributions from its readers. Send your material to John Witton, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966; e-mail

Conference entries should be sent to Jean O'Reilly at Subject to editorial review, we will be glad to print, free of charge, details of your conference or event, up to 75 words and one entry only. Please send your notification three months before you wish the entry to appear.