News and Notes

Compiled by John Witton and Jean O'Reilly

UK Moving on Plain Packaging

The Guardian reports that the UK government plans to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes along the Australian model with legislation in 2013. ‘We are going to follow what they have done in Australia. The evidence suggests it is going to deter young smokers. There is going to be legislation,’ said a senior Whitehall source. The Department of Health started a consultation in March 2011 on plain packaging which ended August last year. The legislation, to be announced in the Queen's speech in May, is also expected to ban smoking in cars carrying anyone aged under 16 years.


Donald Arthur Calsyn 1949–2013

Don Calsyn died on 3rd February 2013, aged 63. Don was a Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. He was appointed Director of the Outpatient Services in the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Healthcare System's Addiction Treatment Center in 1988 and was the clinical team leader for opiate agonist treatment for 23 years. In 2004 he retired from the VA but continued his association with the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute as the substance use and HIV/AIDS expert on the Pacific Northwest Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network.


UK Health Bodies Want Limits on Alcohol Sale and Promotion

The Guardian reports that the Alcohol Health Alliance, a UK coalition of medical bodies and health charities, demands a range of measures to reduce the £55bn annual cost of alcohol misuse in the UK. The measures include a graphic warning about the health dangers of over-consumption on can and bottle labels, a ban on all alcohol advertising and sponsorship and restricting drink sales in shops and supermarkets to certain times. Sir Ian Gilmore, the AHA's chair, said action was especially urgent given that UK teenagers drink much more than the European average. Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors, said the report, Health First, ‘demonstrates the clear evidence that the government must push on with its commitment to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol.’ A 50p minimum unit price could prevent over 3,000 drink-related deaths a year and 40,000 crimes annually in England, he added. But the Department of Health said: ‘Cigarette-style health warnings are not applicable to alcohol. All levels of smoking are bad for your health, but the same cannot be said for alcohol consumption.’


UN Report on Drug Detention Centres

In March last year 12 United Nations agencies called for the closure of drug detention centres and the release of the people detained there ‘without delay.’ Time reports that a recent United Nations report about torture and other abuses in healthcare settings reiterates this call and points to the need for donors to withdraw funds to compulsory drug detention centres. The report was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 4, 2013, by the special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez. It says that people identified as drug users are held without due process in government-run detention centres where they face serious abuse, including physical and sexual violence and forced labour. The special rapporteur also calls on states to implement voluntary, evidence-based and rights-based health and social services in the community and to undertake investigations to ensure that abuses are not taking place in privately-run centres for the treatment of drug dependence.


Update of Nice Guidance on Harmful Drinking and Alcohol Dependence

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has released Alcohol use disorders: harmful drinking and alcohol dependence Evidence Update January 2013. The update provides a summary of selected new evidence relevant to NICE Clinical Guideline 115 Alcohol use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence.


US Federal Appeals Court Rules That Cannabis Still Considered A Highly Dangerous Drug

The Los Angeles Times reports that cannabis will continue to be considered a highly dangerous drug under federal law with no accepted medical uses, after a U.S. appeals court decision in January which refused to order a change in the government's 40-year-old drug classification schedule. A cannabis advocacy group went to court, arguing that federal officials had a duty to re-examine the medical evidence and reclassify cannabis as a drug that has clear benefits for those who are suffering and in pain. Judges in the appeal court said they had a duty to defer to the judgment of federal health experts who had concluded they needed more evidence before reclassifying cannabis. Judge Harry Edwards, writing for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, said the judges did not dispute that ‘marijuana could have some medical benefits.’ Instead, he said, they were not willing to overrule the Drug Enforcement Agency because they had not seen large ‘well-controlled studies’ that proved the medical value of cannabis.


European Drug Market Report Launched

Two European Union bodies, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, have combined to provide the first state-of-the-art overview of the European drug market in its entirety. The analysis provided by the report combines insights from the EMCDDA's monitoring and data analysis of Europe's drug phenomenon in the global context with Europol's operational understanding of trends in organised crime. According to the report, globalisation is an important driver of developments, with more countries now used as transit, storage or production points. The Internet is having a major impact, both as communication tool and online marketplace. The EU is cited as a key ‘source of expertise and know how’ regarding intensive cannabis cultivation, synthetic drug production and cocaine concealment.


Smoking Ban in Russia

Forbes reports that Russia is the latest country to impose major new restrictions on smoking in public places. From June Russians will no longer be able to smoke in restaurants, and cigarette advertising will be banned. The new smoking laws increase the minimum price allowed to be charged for a pack of cigarettes, hoping to reduce the amount people spend on tobacco while increasing the tax revenue for each pack sold.


Conferences and Events

Substance Abuse Librarians & Information Specialists (SALIS) 35th Annual Conference, 30 April–3 May 2013, Berkeley, California, USA. Website:

Royal College of Psychiatrists 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:

Seventh Annual Conference of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy, 15–17 May 2013, Bogota, Colombia. Website:

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

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) Annual Conference, 18–21 May 2013, San Antonio, Texas, USA. Website:

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

Addictions Ontario 45th Annual Addictions Conference, 26–29 May 2013, Toronto, Canada. Website:

8th International Conference on Nightlife, Substance Use and Related Health Issues, 28–30 May 2013, San Francisco, California, USA. Website:

International Conference on Opioids, 9–11 June 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:

ASH Scotland 40th Anniversary Conference, 20–21 June 2013, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Website:

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

7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, 30 June–3 July 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Website:

ISCTE–EMCDDA European Summer School on Illicit Drugs, 1–12 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:

Contemporary Drug Problems: Complexity: Researching Alcohol and Other Drugs in a Multiple World, 21–23 August 2013, Aarhus, Denmark. Website:

Addiction Therapy-2013: 2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Addiction Research & Therapy, 22–24 July 2013, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Website:

International Conference for the 20th anniversary of the Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction, 9–10 September 2013, Zurich University, Zurich, Switzerland. Website:

5th Addiction and Mental Health Research Showcase, 11–13 September 2013, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Website:

National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) 2013, 21–25 September 2013, Anaheim, California, USA. Website:

American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) 2013 Annual Meeting, 22–24 September 2013, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Website:

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

Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference, 26–28 September 2013, Vancouver, Canada. Website:

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

NAADAC (the Association for Addiction Professionals) National Conference, 11–14 October 2013, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Website:

California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) Addiction Medicine State of the Art 2013, 16–19 October 2013, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

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

American Public Health Association (APHA) 2013 Annual Meeting, 2–6 November 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Website:

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

International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) 2013 Annual Meeting, 21–23 November 2013, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Website:

American College of Psychiatrists Annual Meeting, 19–23 February 2014, San Antonio, Texas, 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.