News and Notes


  • Peter Miller,

  • Molly Jarvis


By Doug Sellman

The Liquor Control Campaign (LCC) in New Zealand is related to the excessive presence of alcohol in contemporary New Zealand and its enormous social and personal damage, estimated recently to total $5.3 billion which includes crime, lost output and health service use.

The LCC coincides with a ‘first principles’ review of the New Zealand liquor laws by the Law Commission, headed by ex-Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer. The focus of the LCC is a set of effective measures that will reduce the harm associated with alcohol use in New Zealand, through decreasing regular heavy drinking.

This set of measures is based on the seminal publication, ‘Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity’[1], a book documenting research work sponsored by the World Health Organisation. It will be referred to in the campaign as the ‘5+ Solution’ and in outline consists of the following policy directives:

  • 1Increase the price of alcohol
  • 2Increase the purchase age
  • 3Decrease the accessibility of alcohol
  • 4Decrease the marketing/advertising of alcohol
  • 5Increase drink-driving surveillance

Plus: Increase the intervention opportunities for regular heavy drinkers.

When enacted this set of measures is likely to move alcohol policy into the middle-ground between, on the one hand, excessive free market commercialisation of alcohol that exists at present and the equally out of control and extreme position of prohibition on the other.

The LCC will be launched at the ‘Cutting Edge’ Conference, the national annual addiction treatment conference, 10–11 September 2009 with the presentation of a lecture titled: ‘10 things the alcohol industry won't tell you about alcohol’ and then repeated in about 30 towns and cities the length and breadth of New Zealand.


Bloomberg reports that Canada has introduced amendments to its tobacco law to make it harder for cigarette makers to market so-called ‘kiddy packs’—small packages which are popular with underage and young smokers. The legislation would also ban tobacco companies from adding fruit flavours and other additives that give tobacco products a candy flavour, and end an exemption that allows tobacco adverts in publications aimed at adults. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaqsaid said in a statement: ‘The changes would also require that little cigars and blunt wraps be packaged like cigarettes in minimum quantities of 20. This will put an end the industry practice of selling these products in single or small quantity “kiddy-packs” that are affordable to youth.’

Source: Bloomberg, 26 May 2009


Amid renewed calls to consider reducing the legal drinking age, a new University of Georgia study finds that lower drinking ages increase unplanned pregnancies and pre-term births among young people. The results appeared in the May issue of the Journal of Health Economics.

The team examined birth records and survey data on alcohol use for the years 1978 to 1988, a period when state minimum drinking age laws were in flux. The researchers found that a drinking age of 18: increases prenatal alcohol consumption among 18- to 20-year-old women by 21%; increases the number of births to 18- to 20-year-olds by 4.6% in white women and 3.9% in 18- to 20-year-old African-American women; increases the likelihood of women under age 21 having a low-birth weight baby by 6% (4% for white women and 8% for African-American women); and increases the likelihood of premature birth by 5% in white women under age 18 and by 7% in African-American women under age 18.

The team's analysis revealed that the negative birth outcomes associated with a lower drinking age aren't the direct result of prenatal alcohol consumption on fetal health. Instead, a lower minimum drinking age results in more unplanned pregnancies, which are known to be associated with poorer infant health outcomes.

Last year, a group known as the Amethyst Initiative comprised of more than 100 college and university presidents and chancellors signed a statement encouraging discussion about lowering the legal drinking age. Co-author Angela Fertig said her study broadens the debate by adding a new dimension that until now has not been considered.

'There are consequences to lowering the drinking age beside traffic fatalities,' Fertig said. ‘There's this potentially big effect on birth outcomes, and to me that argues that we should leave the minimum drinking age where it is.’

Source: Sam Fahmy, University of Georgia


The UK government has set out two public consultations for new controls for a range of substances, including gamma-butyrolactone (GBL). The aim is to prevent the misuse of GBL, 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD), 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP), and a range of anabolic steroids, as part of the Home Office's drug strategy and its commitment to responding to the changing drugs environment and emerging threats to public health. GBL and 1,4-BD have legitimate uses as solvents but can be converted into the Class C controlled drug GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) in the body. The first consultation sets out three options for control and invites industry, commerce and the general public to set out to the government the potential impacts of the different approaches. These responses will inform the action that government takes forward. The second consultation sets out the government's intention to control BZP as a Class C drug. It also makes clear the Home Office's aim to control the group of related compounds or substituted piperazines.

Source: Home Office, UK


A new initiative in the UK by Boots the Chemist in Association with the British Dental Health Foundation has been giving out free sugar-free chewing gum to those collecting methadone on prescription. The initiative is aiming to educate those who use drugs on the dental effects of their treatment and they have produced an educational leaflet to this end.


The US Office of National Drug Control Policy has released a report on the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs. The report finds non-medical use of prescription drugs a serious threat to public health and safety, with unintentional deaths involving prescription opioids increasing 114% from 2001 to 2005, and treatment admissions increasing 74% in a similar four-year period. It synthesizes reports and data from law enforcement and public health officials to evaluate the threat posed by the distribution, diversion, and abuse of controlled prescription drugs in the United States. Non-medical use of prescription drugs (pain relievers, stimulants, tranquilizers, and sedatives) is most prevalent among young adults—individuals aged 18 to 25. Among the general population, 7 million Americans aged 12 and older reported past month nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Abuse and diversion of controlled prescription drugs cost private medical insurers an estimated $72.5 billion per year.


Young people in the UK overwhelmingly support putting tobacco products out of sight in shops, according to new research released by Cancer Research UK [1]. Almost two thirds (64%) of over 1400 11 to 16 year olds surveyed want cigarettes put out of sight in shops. Only 16% do not agree with the proposal. Researchers interviewed more than 1,400 young people from across the UK. The results show the strength of support for new tobacco control legislation to be discussed in the House of Lords. Almost three quarters (72%) of those who had never smoked agreed that cigarettes should be put out of sight. Occasional and regular smokers and those who used to smoke or have tried smoking were less likely to agree.

Girls were more likely than boys to support putting cigarettes out of sight—67% of girls compared with 61% of boys. Professor Gerard Hastings, lead researcher based at the University of Stirling, said: ‘Children see through the hypocrisy of the adult world which tells them not to smoke, but at the same time, allows tantalising displays of tobacco products in shops up and down the land. They also recognise the simple truth that children have a right to be protected from such dangerous blandishments. Policy makers must listen to them and ensure that tobacco is put out of sight as soon as possible.’

1. Unpublished data from The Youth Tobacco Policy Survey Wave 5 (data collected in 2008). Centre for Tobacco Control Research, University of Stirling

Source: Cancer Research UK.


The BBC reports that a Chinese county has ordered officials to smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of cigarettes every year in the hopes of raising tax revenues. Gong'an county has reportedly told civil servants and teachers to smoke 230,000 packs of the locally-made Hubei brand each year. Civil servants who smoke brands not made locally or do not smoke enough, face being fined or even fired. The decision has led provincial leaders to order a review of the policy. China has an estimated 350 million smokers and more than half of all male doctors smoke. A million people die from smoking-related diseases in China every year, but local officials were undeterred by the health risks. Chen Nianzu, a member of the cigarette market supervision team, told the Global Times newspaper ‘The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax’. There is still a general lack of awareness about the impact on health in China, although there are signs of change, particularly in Beijing, where a ban on smoking in public buildings has been recently introduced.


19th Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, 8–11 July 2009, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois, USA. Website:

International Narcotics Research Conference, 12–17 July 2009, Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon, USA. Website:

Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy: Time to Talk, 9 September 2009, St. Anne's College, Oxford, UK. Organised by Oxford Brookes University School of Health and Social Care. Website: Contact: Ethel Burns, or Dawn Gilkes,

International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) Annual Meeting, 24–27 September 2009, Hotel Riviera & Maximilian's, Trieste, Italy. Website:

International Society of Addiction Medicine Annual Meeting, 26–30 September 2009, Calgary, Canada. Website:

International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA) Annual Education Conference—Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment: Working with the Criminal Justice Systems, 30 September—3 October 2009, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Website:

The Fifth European Association of Addiction Therapy Conference, 5–7 October 2009, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Website

European Science Foundation-Linköping University Conference on The changing use and misuse of Catha Edulis (khat) in a changing world: tradition, trade and tragedy, 5–9 October 2009, Scandic Linköping Väst Hotel, Linköping, Sweden. Website:

6th Annual Conference of the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol Problems (INEBRIA): Breaking New Ground. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle/Gateshead, 7–9 October, 2009. Website:

Shaping the Future—A Multisectorial Challenge: 52nd International Council on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) Conference on Dependencies, 11—16 October 2009, Estoril, Portugal. Website:

UK National Conference on Injecting Drug Use, 26–27 October 2009, The Radisson Hotel, Glasgow, Scotland. Website:

Living on the Edge: Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs (APSAD) annual conference, 1–4 November 2009, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin, Australia. Website:

33rd Annual Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (Amersa) National Conference, 5–7 November 2009, DoubleTree Hotel, Betheseda, MD, USA. Website: or contact Doreen MacLane-Baeder, email:

1st Asia Pacific Behavioural & Addiction Medicine Conference: TheArt &Science of Behavioural Change, 5–7 November 2009, Singapore. Website

Reform 2009: The International Drug Policy Reform Conference, 11–14 November 2009, Albuquerque Convention Center, USA. Organised by the Drug Policy Alliance. Website

Society for the Study of Addiction Annual Symposium, 12–13 November 2009, Park Inn, York, UK. Theme: treatment policy; sub-themes: service-user involvement, young people and families, what does the Alcohol Education and Research Council do? Submissions for delegates’ posts and oral presentations are welcome, any addictions subject considered. Further details and application forms on the website

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry 20th Annual Meeting & Symposium, 3–6 December 2009, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, California. Website

Kettil Bruun Society thematic meeting: Episodic heavy drinking amongst adolescents, 10–12 December 2009, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Website: Contact: Jacqueline Berns,

12th International Conference on Treatment of Addictive Behaviors (ICTAB-12), 7–10 February 2010, Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA). Contact: Website:

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 7848 5966; e-mail

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