News and Notes


  • Peter Miller,

  • Susan Savva


Jan Copeland writes:

The Australian government has created the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) which will be directed to the reduction of the demand for cannabis by preventing uptake and harms associated with its use in the Australian community. The Centre will provide the community with evidence-based information on cannabis use, and build the capacity of service providers to respond to the information and intervention needs of cannabis users and their families.

NCPIC is a consortium led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre with six partners. These are the National Drug Research Institute in Perth, who will have carriage of the development of effective preventive and culturally appropriate responses; the Australian Institute of Criminology in Canberra, who will be responsible for engaging the criminal justice sector; Lifeline Australia, who will provide a free national Cannabis Information and Helpline; ORYGEN Research Centre in Melbourne, who will develop mental health first aid materials and co-morbidity training courses; the Ted Noffs Foundation, who will assist in the development of quality adolescent treatment responses; and the National Centre for Education and Training on the Addiction in Adelaide, who will contribute to the Centre's workforce development activities.

The new Centre will educate cannabis users, their families and the community with the goal of reducing uptake and continuation of cannabis use. In addition, it will provide increased access to evidence-based interventions to reduce harms associated with cannabis use by developing new interventions, improving access to current interventions, and training and supporting therapists.

We will be communicating with the research and intervention communities via a monthly electronic magazine that is similar in some ways to News and Notes but also includes an annotated bibliography of relevant cannabis research released in the previous month. The Centre will also distribute a quarterly Bulletin that summarises an original piece of NCPIC research. The website and telephone helpline (+61 1800 304050), together with social marketing and strategic inter-sectoral networking, will be the principal means of disseminating the work of the Centre to the community. Please contact me at if you wish to join our electronic distribution list.


Turkey's parliament has approved a ban on smoking in public places, although the ban will not be implemented for 18 months. The move follows similar measures across the European Union, a group of nations which Turkey hopes to join. The ban will include cigars, pipes and the traditional water pipes, or nargile, a popular attraction for tourists as well as locals. Turkey has very high rates of smoking in comparison to western Europe and nearly two-thirds of men smoke.

Source: Reuters News, 03 January 2008

Link: (accessed 5 February 2008)


The Glasgow Herald reports that government ministers have given their backing to plans to license shops which sell tobacco in an attempt to tackle under-age smoking and drive rogue traders out of business. Some members of the Scottish parliament believe the current law on tobacco sales is not properly enforced, making it too easy for those under the age of 18 to buy cigarettes. The idea has been welcomed by health campaigners and anti-smoking organisations, although shopkeepers have voiced their concerns. Tobacco licensing will form part of an action plan on smoking to be published by the Scottish Government later this year.

Link: (accessed 5 February 2008)


Britons are typically drinking a third more than earlier surveys suggested, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper. The Office for National Statistics has updated its drinking assessment method for the first time since 1978, due to the higher alcohol content of wine and bigger measures of some products. But the drinks industry has reacted angrily, saying the government was sending out a confusing message about sensible alcohol consumption, and insisting that, overall, people were drinking less than they used to.

Source: (accessed 5 February 2008)


The UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) reports that it is early signs of antisocial behaviour and not levels of drinking that best predict future alcohol-related trouble and continued alcohol use by young people. This conclusion is drawn from a study led by Robert Young of the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow [1].

Published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, the study reveals that the strongest predictor of alcohol-related trouble among 15 year-olds is a history of antisocial behaviour rather than their actual drinking habits. Over a period of four years Young and colleagues worked with more than 2,000 school pupils between the ages of 11 and 15 to examine the relationship between under-age drinking, antisocial behaviour and alcohol-related trouble. The pupils completed regular questionnaires that asked about their alcohol consumption and behaviour.

The results show that youngsters who are inclined to behave badly are particularly prone to alcohol-related trouble. The effects of alcohol can make trivial disputes worse—so that even those with moderate antisocial tendencies may be affected. Young people who got their alcohol from shops, bars, clubs, friends or siblings were more likely to both behave antisocially, and indulge in increasing amounts of alcohol. In comparison, young people given alcohol by their parents were less likely to behave antisocially and escalate alcohol use. The results were equally valid for girls and boys.



The Melbourne newspaper The Age reports that Victoria's 11 000 police officers are to be subject to routine testing for alcohol and drugs after critical incidents such as police shootings or high-speed chases that result in injuries. The chief commissioner will also be given unprecedented powers to order tests to protect the “good order or discipline of the force”. This will open the door for possible targeted or random testing—including whole squads or stations. Under the system, police who seek assistance will be offered an “amnesty” and receive treatment. Those testing positive will face a professional standards assessment panel, which can recommend treatment, criminal charges and/or disciplinary action including dismissal.

The assessment panel will review the offender's employment history, the drugs used, whether he or she was affected while carrying out operational duties and if the drugs were illegally obtained via work. Independent inquiries in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have found that illicit drug use by police is a serious problem that requires immediate action.

Source: (accessed 5 February 2008)


Medical News Today reports that cannabinoids may suppress tumour invasion in highly invasive cancers. Cannabinoids have been used to reduce many of the side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, weight loss, and vomiting. There is now evidence that they may also inhibit tumour cell growth, particularly tumour invasion in highly invasive cancers [1]. The cellular mechanisms behind this remain unknown. Researchers from the University of Rostock in Germany investigated whether and by what mechanism cannabinoids inhibit tumour cell invasion. They found that cannabinoids did act to suppress tumour cell invasion and stimulated the expression of TIMP-1, an inhibitor of a group of enzymes that are involved in tumour cell invasion. The authors call for rigorous clinical trials to test their findings for evidence of clinical benefit.



A biopharmaceutical company has announced it has initiated enrolment for its 180 patient, US phase II clinical trial evaluating the use of CPP-109 in treating patients with cocaine addiction. CPP-109 (vigabatrin) is an orally administered, small molecule drug which inhibits psychostimulant-induced dopamine release. The phase II trial is designed as a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled, intent-to-treat, multi-centre study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of CPP-109 as a treatment for cocaine addiction. Under the study protocol, patients will be treated for a period of 12 weeks, with an additional 12 weeks of follow-up. Additional information can be found at (search for Catalyst).

Vigabatrin works by inhibiting an enzyme that normally breaks down gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a dopamine-modulating neurotransmitter. The resulting excess GABA suppresses the increase in dopamine release caused by cocaine. It is thought that this reinforcing effect is the primary biochemical explanation for addiction. CPP-109 indirectly keeps dopamine levels in the normal range without impairing normal dopamine-based mechanisms. It is also thought that this effect may act to reduce craving.


Making Time for Treatment. 5th UK/European Symposium on Addictive Disorders. Millennium Gloucester Hotel, South Kensington, London. 8–10 May 2008. Contact:;

Towards a Global Approach. 19th Conference of the International Harm Reduction Association, Palacio de Congresos, Fira de Barcelona, Spain. 11–15 May 2008. Contact: http://www/

Seen and Unseen Harms. Australian Winter School, Brisbane, 12–14 May 2008. Daily themes are families and AOD; workplace AOD; and social exclusion. Contact:

Treatment and Recovery in the Criminal Justice System. Talk by Tim McSweeney in the Pathways to Recovery seminar series, University of Stirling. 22 May 2008. Organised by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and Scottish Addiction Studies. Contact:

KBS 2008. 34th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society. 2–6 June 2008, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Contact:

First International Conference on Motivational Interviewing. Casino Kursaal Conference Centre, Interlaken, Switzerland, 9–11 June 2008. Contact:

College on Problems of Drug Dependence. 70th Annual Meeting, the Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 14–19 June 2008. Contact:

Joint RSA/ISBRA Scientific Conference. Grand Hyatt, Washington DC, 28 June–2 July 2008. Contact: Debby Sharp at

UKNSCC 2008. UK National Smoking Cessation Conference, Hilton Metropole, Birmingham. 30 June-1 July 2008. Contact: 2008 UKNSCC, Exchange Supplies, 1 Great Western Industrial Centre, Dorchester, Dorset DT1 1RD; fax +44 (0)1305 262255; email; website

Drugs and Society in Africa. 8th Biennial International Conference of CRISA, 23–24 July 2008, Abuja, Nigeria. Main conference theme is substance abuse and social development. Deadline for submission of abstracts: 28 April. Contact: Andrew Zamani, or Isidore Obot,; website

Empowerment for Practitioners. 51st International ICAA Conference on Dependencies, 2–7 November 2008, Limassol, Cyprus. Hosted by the Centre for Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation of Substance Dependent Persons (KENTHEA). Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 September. Contact:

News and Notes welcomes contributions from its readers. Send your material to Peter Miller, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7703 5787; e-mail

Conference entries should be sent to Susan Savva 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.