News and Notes

Compiled by John Witton and Jean O'Reilly

US Regulators to Examine Alcohol Ads in Social Media

The Sacramento Bee reports that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is requiring 14 major alcohol beverage producers to release information about their digital and internet marketing work. The Bee reports that the alcohol industry is innovating quickly with increasing numbers of alcohol companies using tweets to create a ‘market buzz’ while the pace of regulation and monitoring has fallen behind according to public health specialists. The data gathered by the exercise is expected to inform FTC recommendations on how the industry should regulate itself both online and offline. Sarah Mart of the Alcohol Justice advocacy group commented that any survey would be inadequate as long as the alcohol industry regulates its own advertising but the Bee suggests further action by the Commission is unlikely.


Tougher Community Sentences for Drink Offenders in the UK

The Economist reports that the package of reforms of legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders, that was passed by the UK Parliament on 1 May 2012 includes mandatory sobriety initiatives modelled on the 24/7 programme for drink driving offenders developed in South Dakota (described in Addiction by Caulkins & Dupont 2010). Keith Humphreys, Addiction Senior Editorial Advisor, testified several times in Parliament on the evidence underlying such programmes. The measures received strong support from all three major political parties in the UK. Trials will begin in six UK cities, including London, later this year.


Further Limits on Alcohol Advertising in Finland

The Helsinki Times reports that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland has circulated a draft bill on limiting alcohol advertising, to various agencies, NGOs and businesses for comment. The draft bill states that advertising of spirits would continue to be prohibited. Advertising of mild alcoholic beverages outdoors and in public premises would be prohibited but the bill would continue to allow advertising at and outside points of sale and in restaurants. Alcohol ads would disappear from bus stops, sports venues and athletes’ shirts. Alcohol advertising would also be prohibited on TV and radio before 2300 hrs. Advertising for mild alcoholic beverages could continue to be published in other media, but the content of the ads would be restricted. Promotional tools such as marketing lotteries, online video ads and games would also be prohibited. The aim is to submit the bill to Parliament during the 2012 spring session. ‘If this law becomes a reality, sponsorship will end,’ said Elina Uzza, Managing Director of the Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry.


No Savings for Florida from Welfare Drug Tests

The New York Times reports that a Florida law requiring drug tests for people who seek welfare benefits have resulted in no direct savings, identified few drug users and had no effect on the number of applications, according to recently released state data. ‘Many states are considering following Florida's example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn't,’ said Derek Newton, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which sued the state last year to stop the testing and recently obtained the documents. ‘Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn't save money, as was proposed.’ The Florida civil liberties group sued the state last year, arguing that the law constituted an ‘unreasonable search’ by the government, a violation of the Fourth Amendment, resulting in a temporary injunction from the Federal District Court in October 2011, with the judge saying the law ‘appears likely to be deemed a constitutional infringement.’ From July through October in Florida—the four months when testing took place before the order—2.6% of the state's cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was cannabis use. An additional 40 people cancelled the tests without taking them. Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118 140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr Newton said. A document about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families caseloads stated that the drug testing policy, at least from July through September, did not lead to fewer cases.


Report from Respected Thinktank Criticises Global Drug Prohibition Policy

A Guardian blog features the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ report Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States. Co-authored by Nigel Inkster, former MI6 director of operations and intelligence, and Virginia Comolli, the report says that drug prohibition promotes insecurity and crime and poor states pay the price for black market in drugs. ‘Drugs have been the commodity which more than any other has primed the pump for the massive rise in organised criminality witnessed since the end of the cold war’ according to the report. While in Afghanistan the income from opium production represents a ‘social safety net’, some of the poor countries of West Africa ‘have been taken over and comprehensively corrupted by narcotics-trafficking groups, to the point where the latter secure the loyalty of local populations by providing levels of social welfare far beyond the capacity of states to match’. The report proposes that drug consumption should be treated as a healthcare issue rather than a criminal one.


US Drug Strategy Emphasizes Public Health and Safety Approach

Launching the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy said ‘Outdated policies like the mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders are relics of the past that ignore the need for a balanced public health and safety approach to our drug problem’. The new Strategy is guided by three premisses: addiction is a disease that can be treated; people with substance use disorders can recover; and innovative new criminal justice reforms can stop the revolving door of drug use, crime, imprisonment and rearrest. The 2012 Strategy provides a review of progress made to date and outlines evidence-based programmes to reform the criminal justice system by diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison, addressing substance use disorders through the healthcare system and youth outreach, targeting violent transnational criminal organizations, and expanding the US government's efforts to secure the southwest border and strengthen international partnerships. The Obama Administration has requested over $10 billion to support drug education programmes and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders. The 2013 Budget also requests $9.4 billion for domestic law enforcement, $3.7 billion on interdiction, and $2 billion for international programmes.


Un Report Says Opium Production Rising Again in Afghanistan

The Guardian reports that the latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's opium survey in Afghanistan says that opium farming is set to increase in 2012. The annual risk assessment says that while the largest opium cultivating provinces in the south, Helmand and Kandahar, are not likely to see an increase in cultivation, only 15 of Afghanistan's provinces, or well under half, are likely to be free of opium this year. In 2009 and 2010 poppy farming was eradicated from 20 provinces. The Risk Assessment indicated the strong association between insecurity, lack of agricultural assistance and opium cultivation. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, country representative of the UNODC in Afghanistan, warned: ‘For a long while, when we had 20 opium-free provinces, it seemed that we were able to push the opium back into the most insecure southern provinces. Today that is not any longer the case, and the governance issue is key to that,’ he told the Guardian. ‘The Taliban definitely get income from opium cultivation … but the lion's share of the income still disappears here, into the hands of the big patrons of this country,’ he added.


Plain Packaging of Cigarettes Consultation in England

BBC News reports that The Times has been told that the UK Government has launched a consultation on its plans to remove all branding from cigarette packs sold in England. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the government did not work with tobacco companies as it wanted them to have ‘no business’ in the UK. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: ‘The consultation is just the first step, putting us in pole position to be the first European nation to put tobacco in plain, standardised packs,’ adding ‘Now that cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship and tobacco displays have all been banned this is the obvious next step if the Government truly wants to make smoking history.’


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.

A work that was destined to please,

E.M. Jellinek wrote it with ease.

246 pages,

This book for the ages

Says alcoholism's disease.

Sheila Blume

Conferences and Events

Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction, 8–20 July 2012, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Website:

International Congress of the Royal College of Psychiatrists: Psychiatry: Medicine and the Future, 10–13 July 2012, Liverpool, UK. Website:

The International Narcotics Research Conference 2012, 15–20 July 2012, Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Website:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 5th National Conference on Behavioral Health for Women and Girls, 17–19 July 2012, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

19th International AIDS Conference, 22–27 July 2012, Washington, DC, USA. Website:

American Psychological Association Annual Convention, 2–5 August 2012, Orlando, Florida, USA. Website:

Addiction Research and Therapy 2012, 20–22 August 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Website:

Cutting Edge, 6–8 September 2012, Michael Fowler Centre, Willington, New Zealand. Website:

25th Annual National Prevention Network (NPN) Prevention Research Conference, 18–21 September 2012, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Website:

2cd National Cannabis Conference: From Genetics to Practice, 19–21 September 2012, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia. Website:

Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) 2012 Annual Meeting & Scientific Conference, 20–22 September 2012, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Website:

American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP) Annual Meeting, 23–25 September 2012, San Diego, California, USA. Website:

International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) Annual Meeting, 26–29 September 2012, Lisbon, Portugal. Website:

9th Annual Conference of the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and Other Drug Problems (INEBRIA)—From Clinical Practice to Public Health: Two Dimensions of Brief Interventions, 27–28 September 2012, Barcelona, Spain. Website:

Canadian Psychiatric Association Annual Conference, 27–29 September 2012, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Website:

National Conference on Addiction Disorders, 28 September–2 October 2012, Orlando, Florida, USA. Website:

Harm Reduction International's ACCESS conference: Drug users in custody: Learning the lessons, 5–6 October 2012, Milan, Italy. Website:

Gender and Sexualities: Revisioning Drug and Alcohol Research, 10–12 October 2012, Centre for Alcohol & Drug Research, Aarhus University, Denmark. Website:

25th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress, 13–17 October 2012, Vienna, Austria. Website:

International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) Annual Meeting, 14–18 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland. Website:

14th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Addiction Medicine, 14–18 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland. Website:

Traitement de la dépendance aux opioïdes: Troisième colloque francophone, 18–19 October 2012, Geneva, Switzerland. Website:

14th Spanish National Conference on Dual Disorders, 25–27 October 2012, Madrid, Spain. Website:

American Public Health Association (APHA) 140th Annual Meeting and Exposition, 27–31 October 2012, San Francisco, California, USA. Website:

Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), 36th Annual National Conference, 1–3 November 2012, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Website:, or contact Doreen:

2cd Asia Pacific Behavioral and Addiction Medicine (APBAM) Conference, 1–3 November 2012, Singapore, Singapore. Website:

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

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

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