News and Notes

Compiled by John Witton, Jean O'Reilly and Peter Miller


World No Tobacco Day, held on 31 May, provided a platform to mark progress of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The European Union and 172 countries have become parties to the FCTC since it was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2003 and came into force in 2005. Of the 65 parties that submitted mandatory progress reports on implementation of the Convention over the two reporting cycles since 2005, 40 reported progress in raising tobacco taxes, 39 in making public places smoke-free and 35 in strengthening research and surveillance of tobacco control. The Head of the Convention Secretariat Dr Haik Nikogosian commented ‘The WHO FCTC is the most powerful tobacco control tool at our disposal. . . . The need to fully implement the treaty is especially great in the low- and middle-income countries, which is where the tobacco industry is focusing its marketing efforts. International cooperation to facilitate Parties' compliance with the treaty is crucial.’



The National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE) has produced guidance on treating alcohol use disorders in Britain. Among its key recommendations are that treatment and care should take into account individual needs and preferences and that staff working in services provided and funded by the National Health Service who care for people who can potentially misuse alcohol should be competent to identify harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. The guidance is supported by extensive literature reviews and meta-analyses of the available evidence, with the NICE expert group adopting the findings from the research to the British treatment context.



In 2010 the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Abuse (EMCDDA) and Europol received official notification of 41 new psychoactive substances. This is the largest number of substances reported in a single year to these agencies so far and compares to 24 substances in 2009 and 13 in 2008. The substances notified include synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic cathinones and synthetic derivatives of well-established drugs. The report also gives an account of the 2010 risk assessment of the synthetic cathinone, mephedrone. The complete risk assessment is available in a separate report and examines the health and social risks of the drug as well as describing international trafficking and the involvement of organised crime. On the basis of this risk assessment the Council of the European Union decided on 2 December 2010 that mephedrone should be subject to control measures.



In April, the Obama Administration launched a national framework to tackle prescription drug abuse. Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis cites prescription drug abuse as the fastest growing drug problem in the US, with prescription opioid abuse being of the greatest concern. The cross-governmental plan seeks the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programmes to detect and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs at the retail level and supports education for patients and healthcare providers. The plan also seeks reductions in the prevalence of ‘pill mills’—illegal pain clinics with prescribers who are not prescribing within the usual course of medical practice nor for legitimate medical practice—and ‘doctor shopping’ to obtain multiple prescriptions through enforcement action.

Report available at:


A report from the National Drug Intelligence Centre (NDIC) estimates that illicit drug use cost the USA $193 billion in 2007. Direct and indirect costs were estimated in three principal areas: crime, health and productivity—with the majority of the cost attributable to lost productivity. The assessment was conducted within a Cost Of Illness framework and allowed the impact of illicit drug use to be compared against other social and health problems. The report cites estimated national costs of $174 billion each year for diabetes and $147 billion for obesity.

Report available at:


Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Kamal Ahmed and Jamie Dunkley report that Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has written to the UK's main supermarkets demanding action after Department of Health (DoH) officials said that the supermarkets had failed to follow through on commitments to remove alcohol promotions from the front of their stores where they are visible to casual shoppers. The voluntary ‘responsibility deal’ was signed earlier in 2011 and was intended to address concerns that heavy price discounting of alcohol encourages binge drinking. Only one supermarket, Asda, had signed up to the policy on removing alcohol at the shopfront. In his letter to the other supermarkets Mr Lansley said ‘Asda has taken a tough decision but it's the right one. We hope that others will follow their example.’ The letter also said that the Government wanted to see ‘all major alcohol retailers' full participation in this effort’. While some pressure groups have already withdrawn from the ‘responsibility deal’ because they said the government was not being forceful enough with retailers, according to the Daily Telegraph, government officials have made it clear that if a voluntary agreement does not work, then legal regulation on the sale of discounted alcohol in shops could follow.



The Global Commission on Drug Policy launched a report on 2 June in New York City which proposes that current drug prohibition policies had failed and that governments should move away from criminal justice and toward a public health approach. The 19-member Commission consists of former Presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia along with the writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa and economic and business leaders such as Paul Volcker and Richard Branson. The Commission recommends that policymakers should ‘end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others’, ‘encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens’ and replace current policies with ‘fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights—and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation’.

Report available at:


The Department of Health and the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA), which has responsibility for increasing the availability, capacity and effectiveness of drug treatment in England, have given commitment to a modest expansion of Supervised Injectable Heroin (SIH) services in England. The Action Plan for the NTA 2011–12 published on 26 May 2011 refers to the positive findings from the Randomised Injectable Opioid Treatment Trial (RIOTT) and commits the NTA to work with the Department of Health and explore ‘whether the model demonstrated in the Randomised Injectable Opioid Treatment Trial conducted by the National Addiction Centre can be made to work for the small number of people who may benefit in a way that is consistent with the best use of ever tighter resources’ and commission new SIH services subject to Department of Health agreement.

Report available at:


Addiction runs a single limerick each month. The Commissioning Editor and Editor-in-Chief will choose limericks according to their tastes. Please feel free to send us some should our pages inspire you to this form of poetry. This month's limerick was penned by Professor Sheila Blume, writing as SheilaB, and is part of The Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form (OEDILF, website:, an online limerictionary with the goal of publishing ‘at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language.’

Dipsomaniac (OEDILF Limerick #59951)

Dipsomaniacs drink to excess,

And to blackouts they often confess,

Which is hard to ignore.

With each bout, they drink more,

Though they'd promised to quit or drink less.

Alcoholics, we'd call them, I guess.


24th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress, 3–7 September 2011, Paris, France. Website:

International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) 13th Annual Meeting, 6–10 September 2011, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway. Website:

International Nurses Society on Addictions Annual Educational Conference, 7–10 September 2011, JW Mariott, Tucson, Arizona, USA. Website:

Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders, 8–11 September 2011, Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA. Website:

International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) Annual Meeting, 11–14 September 2011, Hilton Head, South Carolina, USA. Website:

NAADAC National Conference on Addiction Disorders, 17–21 September 2011, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

13th European Federation of Therapeutic Communities Conference, 20—23 September 2011, Keble College, Oxford University, Oxford, UK. Website:

8th Annual Conference of the International network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol Problems (INEBRIA), 21–23 September 2011, Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Website:

Implementing and Sustaining Alcohol and Other Drug Screening and Brief Intervention (AOD-SBI) Meeting: Lessons from Large Scale Efforts. 21 September 2011, Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Website: or For more information contact Amy Alawad at

8th Annual Conference of the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol Problems (INEBRIA)—New Frontiers: Translating Science to Enhance Health. 22–23 September 2011, Liberty Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Website: or For more information contact Amy Alawad at

Beyond the Buzzword: Problematising ‘Drugs’, 3–4 October 2011, Prato, Italy. Hosted by Contemporary Drug Problems. Website:

II International Congress on Dual Disorders, 5–8 October 2011, Barcelona, Spain. Website:

1st European Harm Reduction Network Meeting, 6–7 October 2011, Marseille, France. Website:

Attachment and Addiction, 15–16 October 2011, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany. Website:

Addictive Disorders, 24 October–5 November 2011, Neuroscience School of Advanced Studies, San Quirico d'Orcia, Siena, Italy. Website:

International Conference on Global Health and Public Health Education, 25–27 October 2011, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong, SAR China. Website:

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition, 29 October–2 November 2011, Washington, DC, USA. Website:

7th National Conference on Tobacco or Health, 1–3 November 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Website:

10th International Conference on Urban Health, 1–5 November 2011, Minascentro Convention Center, Belo Horizonte City, Brazil.

Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) 35th Annual National Conference, 3–5 November 2011, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Website:, or contact Doreen Baeder at

CSAM 2011 Annual Meeting and Scientific Conference, 4–6 November 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Website:

Issues of Substance 2011 (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse National Conference), 6–9 November 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Website:

Society for the Study of Addiction Annual Symposium, 10–11 November 2011, Park Inn, York, UK. Website:

Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs (APSAD) 2011 Conference, 13–16 November 2011, Hobart, Tasmania. Website:

54th International Council on Alcohol and Addictions (ICAA) International Conference on Alcohol and Addiction, 13–17 November 2011, BMA House, London, UK. Website:

4th International Congress on Psychopharmacology, 23–27 November 2011, Rixos Sungate Hotel Kemer, Antalya, Turkey. Website:

Global Addiction 2011, 5–7 December 2011, Lisbon, Portugal. Website:

European Society for Prevention Research (EUSPR) Conference 2011, 8–9 December 2011, Lisbon, Portugal. Website:

American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry 22cd Annual Meeting and Symposium, 8–11 December 2011, Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Website:

20th European Congress of Psychiatry, 3–6 March 2012, Prague, Czech Republic. Website:

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