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Western Sydney Drug & Alcohol Resource Centre Inc. presents Substance.org.au - Achieving Healthier Communities
Achieving Healthier Communities

 

2012

2012            

 December

November 

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September

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April

March

February

January

December

Lesbian alcohol study underway

ABC News | 19th Decemeber 2012

Researchers at the University of Melbourne say there's evidence that lesbian and bisexual women drink two to three times more than heterosexual women. They are trying to find out why that is the case and are hoping their findings will lead to new training programs for the medical profession.

Full podcast

 We're living longer, but smoking, obesity takes toll on health 

The Australian | 14th Decemeber 2012

AUSTRALIANS are living longer but chronic diseases such as diabetes are taking a greater toll on our health, a global study shows.

The life expectancy for Australian men and women has improved over the past 20 years, the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study found.

Australians' life expectancy was now in the top five in the world, said Professor Alan Lopez, the head of the University of Queensland's School of Population Health, who co-authored the study.

The life expectancy of Australian men had improved by about six years to 79.2 since the last study in 1996, while women could be expected to live on average 83.8 years, up from 80 years two decades ago, he said.

Heart attacks and lung cancer were the biggest disease burdens in Australia and New Zealand, the research found.

However, Prof Lopez said the disease burden from tobacco products in Australia had lessened. 

Full Article

Push to ban stickers covering cigarette warnings

ABC News | 13th December 2012

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says the Federal Government should act quickly to stop a company making stickers to hide health warnings on cigarette boxes.

A Gold Coast company is making a variety of stickers to hide the olive green plain packaging and graphic warnings on tobacco products.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has asked lawyers to investigate whether the stickers breach the plain packaging laws, which came into effect less than a fortnight ago.

AMA president Steve Hambleton says the stickers need to be stopped.

"Those graphic health warnings are there for a very important reason. Over a million Australians have died because they smoked, but I think covering up those health warnings, I think the Federal Government is going to act very quickly and ban those products," he said.

Full Article

Drinking culture patterns revealed in Australia by 2 separate reports

AFN | 12th December 2012

Two reports by Deakin University and the Cancer Council Victoria respectively have made separate findings on alcoholic drinking patterns in Australia.

The Deakin University study is Australia’s largest study into alcohol-related crime. It found that the increasingly common practice of drinking before leaving to go to a nightclub is a major predictor of people experiencing harm or violence.

The study compared effectiveness of alcohol-related crime prevention measures put in place between 2005 and 2010 through licensing regulation in Newcastle (NSW) and voluntary programs run in Geelong (Victoria). The study found that measures that dealt directly with alcohol consumption employed in Newcastle, such as restricted trading hours, were the most effective in reducing alcohol-related crime.

A range of interventions were analysed in the study including locking patrons out of clubs after 1.30am, clubs closing by 3.30am, banning alcohol shots after 10pm and limits on the number of drinks being served.

Full Article

Older teens keep up the binge

The Australian | 11th December 2012

OLDER high school children are continuing to drink at risky levels but alcohol use by younger teenagers is dropping, a national survey shows.  

A survey of 25,000 Australian high school students, carried out every three years, found about one in five pupils were "current drinkers", having consumed alcohol in the past seven days.

The number of 12 to 15 year olds classified as current drinkers dropped from 17 per cent in 2008 to 11 per cent last year, the Australian Secondary Students Alcohol and Drug survey found.

The proportion of 16 and 17 year olds who drank in the past week dropped from 38 per cent in 2008 to 33 per cent last year.

There was little difference in the number of those drinking more than four drinks on one occasion during that week, at 16 per cent last year compared with 18 per cent three years ago.

full article

Thirst for pre-drinks linked to violent nightlife

The Sydney Morning Herald | 10th December 2012

A CULTURE of downing alcohol before going out is significantly contributing to violence and harm in pubs and clubs, Australia's largest study into alcohol-related nightlife crime has found.

And the most effective way to deal with it is to increase the price of alcohol by introducing a levy on packaged drinks, Peter Miller, a Deakin University researcher and author of the study, says.

"We spent a lot of time trying to think of other ways to deal with pre-drinking and simply couldn't," Associate Professor Miller, from the School of Psychology, said.

"There are many people drinking immediately before approaching the door of venues, either around the corner from the pub, in their cars or in their homes, and it is so difficult for venues to detect that unless someone is very obviously intoxicated when they arrive."

Full Article

Wine not heart-healthy for the overweight

The Sydney Morning Herald | 10th December 2012

MANY believe a glass or two of wine is good for them, with its antioxidants working to protect the heart as the alcohol hits the head.

But if you are carrying a bit of extra weight, drinking has no protective effect, new research has found.
An obesity expert from London, Tim Lobstein, said previous findings that small amounts of alcohol lowered heart disease risk were taken from surveys more than 40-years-old.

Studies have indicated alcohol may raise levels of good cholesterol and be beneficial to blood vessels, while antioxidants in wine are thought to protect arteries.

Researchers revisited the data and found the protective effect held for slim men, but not for those with a Body Mass Index above 27.5. An index of 26 to 30 is considered overweight.

Full Article

Australia's cigarette plain packaging laws come into force - video

The Guardian (UK) | 1st December 2012

Shops in Australia restock their shelves as world-first laws on cigarette and tobacco plain packaging come into force on Saturday. Brand logos and colours have been replaced with generic drab olive green coverings, gruesome pictures of diseased body parts and depictions of children and babies made ill by their parents' smoking

Full Video 

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November

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How booze rots your baby's brain

The Australian | 30th November 2012

BABIES born with brain damage from their mothers' drinking should be given the same government benefits as Down syndrome or blind children, a parliamentary inquiry has concluded.

Children born with the "invisible birth defect" of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) do not automatically qualify for disability support.

FASD can "masquerade as naughty behaviour, poor parenting, lack of discipline or simple-mindedness", Labor MP Graham Perrett, who chairs federal parliament's social policy committee, said yesterday.

Full Article

Alcohol a factor in drowning deaths

ABC News | 27th November 2012

A new report shows almost a third of Victorian drowning victims over the last year were intoxicated.

Figures from Life Saving Victoria show there were 37 drowning deaths over the period, up from 34 the previous year.

More than half of the drownings occurred in inland waterways and there was an increase in infant and toddler deaths.

Life Saving Victoria's Dr Bernadette Matthews says 27 per cent of the incidents involve drinking.

Full Article

Health groups breathe easy after tobacco ban

The Sydney Morning Herald | 27th November 2012

TOBACCO investment by the government and public sector will be banned in NSW, in a move applauded by health groups.

The withdrawal of up to $224 million could be the single biggest blow to tobacco investment ever seen in Australia, but will need the support of the independent State Super to be fully implemented.

The chief executive of action on smoking and health Australia, Anne Jones, said the NSW decision could lead to other governments and super funds taking similar action.

''It's possible that billions of dollars are invested in tobacco companies by Australian Governments and individuals through their super funds,'' she said. "Take billions away from an industry and you take away their power and influence to expand''

Full Article

Alcohol a real age-old issue

The Sydney Morning Herlad | 25th November 2012

It is called the ''silver tsunami'', the wave of ageing baby boomers about to hit the health system with alcohol and drug problems.

Preliminary findings from a UNSW study at the Prince of Wales Hospital suggest almost one in five people over 60 presenting at aged care services may be substance abusers.

The study, presented at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and Other Drugs conference this week, found that of the 240 patients aged 60-plus who were screened, 47 were classified as substance abusers. Alcohol accounted for two-thirds of cases, with other patients testing positive for misuse of sedatives and painkillers

Full Article

'Legal highs' pose deadly threats, warns drug expert Dr Robert Ali

Adelaide Now | 23rd November 2012

ADELAIDE'S pre-eminent drug expert Dr Robert Ali has warned tens of thousands of ordinary Australians are risking death or serious illness by buying "legal highs" on the internet, falsely thinking they were safe.

The director of SA Drug and Alcohol Services, Dr Ali said a new cohort of law-abiding young people were attracted to the drugs because they were falsely told they were "legal".

He said for two drugs alone, synthetic versions of cannabis, 65,000 Australians had been tracked in one month searching the internet on how to buy them.

Dr Ali said authorities had been particularly concerned about an internet purchase of a chemical spin-off of LSD, a thousand times stronger, that had caused three deaths in SA this year.

Full Article

Communities key to tackling alcohol: govt

The Australian | 22nd November 2012

A PROJECT that cut grog-fuelled violence in country NSW could hold the key to tackling the problem in Sydney's Kings Cross, the state government says.   

The Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project reported a 33 per cent reduction in alcohol-related street offences in 10 test communities across NSW.

The measures used in the five-year study included interactive sessions at high schools on alcohol risks, GPs prescribing anti-alcohol medication and local police targeting high-risk weekends.

Launching the findings in Sydney on Thursday, NSW Healthy Lifestyles Minister Kevin Humphries said the collaboration between agencies that promoted the rural program would also be employed to reduce public drunkenness in Sydney's nightclub district.

Full Article

Research reveals elderly Australians are drinking alcohol at levels hazardous to their health

Herald Sun | 21st November 2012

ELDERLY Australians are drinking alcohol at levels hazardous to their health because they are lonely, depressed or bored.

Research reveals one in five people over 60 are drinking heavily, prompting calls for separate drinking guidelines and better screening for substance abuse in the elderly.

It is predicted substance abuse in the elderly will double by 2020.

Research papers presented at the Australian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs conference in Melbourne raise concerns about the level of alcohol abuse in the elderly.

A University of Melbourne study of more than 400 elderly people found 7 per cent were binge drinking weekly.

Full Article

Calls for better alcohol licensing laws

ABC News | 16th November 2012

Federal Government-commissioned report calls for changes to liquor licensing laws across the nation.

Full Video 

Group buying sites luring under-age drinkers, say experts

The Sydney Morning Herald | 11th November 2012

PUBLIC health experts have called for a crackdown on websites that promote ''ridiculously cheap'' alcohol, claiming they fuel Australia's drinking problem and appeal to under-age drinkers.

Group buying sites - which offer daily deals on meals, beauty treatments and household products - are increasingly emailing members with offers of up to a 70 per cent discount on booze bought in bulk.

Recent offers include an OurDeal promotion knocking $140 off the recommended retail price of a dozen bottles of wine and a bottle of whisky and a LivingSocial offer of a case of wine for $59 - less than $5 a bottle.

Catch of the Day's Vinomofo discounted wine site has been criticised for using a trade name that directly appeals to young people and for an ''irresponsible'' competition in which entrants could win a Mini full of wine.

Full Article

Young men's smoking roulette

The Mercury | 11th November 2012

A GENERATION of young Tasmanian men are smoking at almost double the national average, making them the nation's biggest smokers.

Almost half of young men in the state are smokers, well ahead of any other state.

Dr Julia Walters, a Hobart GP who conducts research into smoking, said the men were placing not only themselves at risk but also their young children.

"This is a shocking statistic," she said. "These are young men in their most productive years. This is the age at which they are most likely to be around young children".

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics national health survey reveals a staggering 45.8 per cent of Tasmanian men aged 25 to 34 are smokers well ahead of the national rate of 26.7 per cent for men that age.

Full Article

Drink labels don't deter, study finds

The Sydney Morning Herald | 10th November 2012

ALCOHOL warning labels may increase awareness among adolescents about the dangers of drinking, but are unlikely to curb risky behaviour such as drink-driving and bingeing, Sydney researchers have found.

While adolescents overall had good knowledge about alcohol-related risks, the study found the impact of alcohol warning labels diminished over time as their novelty wore off.

The review, conducted by the Australian Catholic University's school of psychology in Victoria, was carried out as a growing number of health experts call for mandated health and safety warnings on alcohol packaging.

Published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, it referred to an Australian study from 2010 that found adolescents did not think health dangers applied to them.

Full Article 

Smoking push to quit for the baby

BrisbaneTimes | 5th November 2012

PREGNANT women and indigenous Australians are being targeted in a new anti-smoking campaign that comes a month before all cigarettes have to be sold in plain packaging.

The latest statistics suggest one in seven Australian women smoke during pregnancy, and of pregnant teens in 2009, 37 per cent were reported to be smoking.

Almost half of pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders smoked during the same year.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says the campaign is designed to support women rather than shame them into quitting.

''Education and support are the best way forward for helping people give up. We know that tobacco is a very strong addiction,'' Ms Plibersek said. ''I'm sure that most women who are smoking while they're pregnant would like to give up.''

Full Article

Number of indigenous heavy smokers drops

The Herald Sun | 5th November 2012

A DRAMATIC drop in the number of indigenous Australian heavy smokers could reduce deaths and disease caused by tobacco, research suggests.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day almost halved between 1994 and 2008, a report in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday found.

The rate dropped from 17.3 per cent of indigenous people in 1994 to 9.4 per cent in 2008 - a 45 per cent decrease.

The decline occurred among both men and women, in remote and non-remote areas and included all age groups except older indigenous people.

However, those smoking one to 10 cigarettes a day increased by almost one-third, from 16.8 per cent to 21.6 per cent.

Full Article

 The drink twice as deadly for women

BrisbaneTimes | 4th November 2012

Drinking too much too often is twice as fatal for women as men, according to new research that has prompted GPs to call for screening of female patients for excessive alcohol consumption.

A German study that followed 149 heavy drinkers for 14 years found women alcoholics were nearly five times as likely to die early as their non-addicted peers.

Alcohol-dependent men were only twice as likely to die early as members of the general population.

The alcohol-addicted men and women were about 20 years younger on average than the normal life expectancy at the time of their death.

Full Article

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October

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Prescription opioids: a painful problem

ABC NEWS | 30th October 2012

An increase in deaths from prescription painkillers is alarming, but the problem does not arise from one simple cause. Professor Louisa Degenhardt, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, says we must avoid the temptation of thinking that one single intervention will offer a solution.

The harm caused by prescription opioids has captured the media's attention in recent weeks.

This was in part prompted by new data on accidental opioid deaths in Australia presented in a report by the University of NSW's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC).

Full Article

Mission Australia Centre Kingswood opens its doors

Penrith Press | 30th October 2012

ABOUT 1000 vulnerable families will benefit from Mission Australia's new multimillion-dollar community centre at Kingswood.

The $13.7 million Mission Australia Centre (MAC) Kingswood has been more than five years in the making.

It was officially opened on Friday by CEO Toby Hall.

The child and family hub at 46 Bringelly Rd will offer family day care, parenting classes and programs for homeless families.

Full Article

More tax on booze would benefit us: report

The Australian | 30th October 2012

ORDERING a schooner at the pub may cost more if proposed alcohol taxation reforms are taken up by the federal government.

But it's a cheaper price to pay than the medical, social and economic collateral damage incurred by harmful booze consumption, a report commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol and Research and Education (FARE) says.

Alcohol-related problems - including emergency department visits, long-term illness and abuse - are conservatively estimated to cost Australia $15 billion a year.

FARE chief Michael Thorn says increasing taxes across the board, particularly for cheap wine, would cost moderate drinkers more but also generate substantial net benefits for the community, the economy and the health of Australians.

Full Article

Rise in prescription drug deaths highlights issue of chronic pain

The Age | 30th October 2012

The recent National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre report raising alarm about increasing numbers of deaths from prescription opioids, reflects a much bigger issue: the millions of Australians whose lives are severely affected by chronic pain.

At least one in five Australians, including children, lives with chronic pain; among people aged over 65, it's one in three. The report's revelation there were more than 500 opioid-related deaths in a year - the majority from prescription drugs such as oxycodone - is indeed tragic. In 2008 deaths from prescription drugs were more than double the number of accidental overdose deaths from heroin. But the number of young people whose lives are ruined because of chronic pain is devastating on an even bigger scale.

Opioid drugs such as oxycodone play a valuable role in treating acute pain, especially after surgery or trauma. However, they may not be suitable for the treatment of long-term chronic pain from a disease or injury.

Full Article

Alcohol Tax Reform

ABC National Radio | 29th October 2012

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) commissioned a report to look into the damage of binge drinking and the benefits and costs of taxing alcohol rationally.

Norman Swan: A major study, a cost benefit analysis in fact, being released tomorrow morning by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education provides strong support for tax reform in the alcohol sector and argues that a minimum of a quarter of a billion dollars a year could be saved as a result. It's part of a consistent and long term push by the public health community to have all alcohol taxed by alcohol content, so-called volumetric taxation,

The analysis of alcohol taxation was performed by economist Dr John Marsden.

John Marsden: It happens at the moment through a volumetric excise on all alcohol except wine. Wine is subject to a wine equalisation tax which is on a value basis.

Norman Swan: What do you mean?

John Marsden: That means that if the wine is a very cheap wine it pays negligible tax, if it's a very expensive wine, a bottle of Grange, then it pays $30 or $60 per bottle tax, whereas the cardboard containers pay almost nothing.

Norman Swan: Why is that a problem?

Full Article

Health experts call for restrictions on engery drinks

 The Australian | 25th October 2012

HEALTH experts are increasing calls for energy drink restrictions after revelations five deaths are being investigated overseas.

The Australian Medical Association wants supermarkets and convenience stores to be banned from selling the caffeine-charged drinks to minors.

Retailers would face fines for underage sales in a similar way to alcohol and cigarettes.

The US Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports of the deaths and a heart attack for possible links to consumption of Monster Energy drinks, which are marketed as a "killer energy brew". 

Full Article

Concerns raised over pro-smoking phone apps

ABC News | 24th October 2012

Anti-smoking campaigners have raised concerns about pro-smoking phone apps, which may be getting around strict laws that ban tobacco products from being advertised.

A study has found there are more than 100 such apps on offer from Google and Apple.

Tobacco companies deny any involvement, but the Federal Health Department said it would investigate the retailers of the apps.

"Once you open the app there is different brands of cigarette packs, so you pick your favourite one and then you light it and smoke it virtually," University of Sydney researcher Nasser Dhim said.

"People want to try different things and these apps are distributed in various categories in the app store - entertainment, games, health and fitness.

Full Article

'HELL OF A PROBLEM': Prescription drugs fuel alarming death spike

News.com.au | 24th October 2012

IT'S our new drug crisis.  

Australia is experiencing its biggest spike in opiate-related deaths since the heroin epidemic of the 1990s, but the majority of deaths are being blamed on prescription painkillers such as oxycodone - also known as 'hillbilly heroin' – and morphine.

An analysis by researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales, found 500 Australians aged 15 to 54 died of an opiate overdose in 2008, up from 360 in 2007.

The report, based on the latest figures from the Bureau of Statistics, projects this figure will climb to 705 overdose deaths in 2010 when figures for that year have been confirmed

Full Article

'New age heroin' deaths spark painkiller debate

Herald Sun | 24th October 2012

A news.com.au report on the rise in prescription opiate overdoses today sparked fierce debate among readers who have used the drugs.

We revealed this morning the biggest spike in opiate overdoses since the heroin epidemic of the 1990s is underway. It's fulled by an increase in deaths from prescription drugs oxycodone and morphine instead of herion.

Full Article

Smoking apps may break advertising laws

The West Australian | 23rd October 2012

Millions of smartphone users including young people are downloading pro-smoking apps that are potentially breaching laws banning tobacco advertising, researchers says.

The apps, some explicitly displaying cigarette brands, are available under categories including entertainment, games, lifestyle and even health and fitness.

University of Sydney researcher Nasser Dhim says those grouped under health and fitness often claim to help users quit smoking. Users simulate smoking by inhaling and exhaling near the phone's microphone.

One, Hotsmoke, features a virtual cigarette that burns faster if you inhale faster. Another, MyAshTray, displays messages such as "would be even better with a beer in your hand" when virtual cigarette ash is dropped in the tray.

Mr Dhim, a PhD candidate and lead author of the study, says there is no evidence smoking simulation helps smokers quit, but there is evidence it reinforces the habit.

"Basically, it is used to enforce that behaviour which is simulated, not to change it," he told AAP.

Full Article

Study backs minimum pricing for alcohol

The Sydney Morning Herald | 22nd October 2012

THE evidence in favour of minimum pricing for alcohol is so strong it is only a matter of time before it is introduced, says the author of new research that found the policy had drastic effects when it was implemented overseas.

The Canadian study has found a 10 per cent increase in the minimum price of alcohol was linked to nearly an 8.5 per cent decrease in alcohol consumption.

The body charged with advising the federal government on preventative health, the National Preventative Health Taskforce, is soon expected to deliver the findings of a draft report into the issue of minimum alcohol pricing.

Full Article

Anti-binge drinking campaign launch

ABC News | 19th October 2012

Cringe the Binge was created by the Byron Youth Service and aims to reverse the culture of binge drinking in Australia, particularly amongst young people.

Part of the campaign will be a national weekend of action on November 9, 10 and 11, where Australians will be asked to donate the money they would normally spend on alcohol to Cringe the Binge.

Full Article

Alcohol warning can curb drinking: study 

9 News | 5th October 2012

Negative warning labels on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks may help curb binge drinking among high-risk youths, research shows.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia (UWA) examined the impact of brand, alcohol content and warning statements on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks commonly purchased by people aged 18 to 25.

They found that, over time, alcohol warning statements could influence buying habits, but the impact varied.

The 300 participants in the UWA study were each asked to make decisions about their preferences for different alcoholic drinks, choosing between combinations of brands, alcohol content levels and warning statements.

Full Article

More older Australians overdosing

The Australian | 4th October 2012

OLDER Australians are the surprising new victims of an increase in fatal drug overdoses, new figures show.

A report by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW found the largest increases in death rates from accidental opioid overdoses were in the 45 to 54-year-old age group.

The report said older Australians were regularly being prescribed opioids for pain relief and were more likely to be taking a range of other medications, which could be fatal when mixed.

Report lead author Amanda Roxburgh said an ageing population of injecting drug users was part of the story, but the larger proportion was likely to be people prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone.

Full Article

Painkiller deaths on the rise

the age | 4th October 2012

Older people misusing painkilling medication have driven the first rise in deaths from heroin and other opioid drugs in more than 10 years, experts say.

Preliminary figures indicate that deaths from the drugs increased from 500 in 2008 to more than 700 in 2010, analysis from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales has found.

The study leader, Amanda Roxburgh, said the upward trend in deaths was the first since the heroin drought began in 2001.

But heroin deaths only accounted for about 30 per cent of the deaths in the study, with the rest due to opioids such as the painkillers oxycodone and morphine.

Full Article

Can alcohol warning labels deter young drinkers?

University of Western Australia | 2nd October 2012

Alcohol warning labels can play a role in influencing the purchasing behaviour of young people, according to a new study from researchers at The University of Western Australia.

Assistant Professor Wade Jarvis and Professor Simone Pettigrew, from the UWA Business School, examined the impact of brand, alcohol content, and various warning statements on the purchasing choices of 18-25-year-old drinkers of pre-mixed alcoholic drinks.

With a large percentage of young Australians engaging in risky drinking behaviours, Assistant Professor Jarvis says alcohol warning statements can play a role in reducing purchasing over time.

‘In the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, around 40 per cent of 14-19-year-olds and 60 per cent of 20-29-year-olds reported consuming alcohol at risky or high-risk levels at least once in the previous 12 months,' he said.

‘In our study, we found that worded messages can influence behaviour, but the impact varies.'

Full Article

Alcohol and energy drinks: a bad mix

Monash University | 2nd October 2012

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol (AEDs) as party beverages is a growing trend among young Australians, who are putting their health at risk by consuming amounts beyond what is deemed safe, according to new research.

An Australian first study examining the patterns of consumption and associated harms of AEDs among young Australians found most were unaware of recommended limits of daily consumption or related health risks. It found some consumed in excess of eight AEDs on a typical night out with friends.

Dr Amy Pennay and Professor Dan Lubman, from Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre and Monash University, surveyed Victorians aged 18 to 35 and documented patterns of consumption of AEDs over a six-month period.

Full Article

Survey shows growing support for ban on alcohol until 21

The Australian | 1st October 2012

ONE in three people believe that the legal drinking age should be lifted from 18 to 21, a new survey has found.

While 46.3 per cent of the 2685 respondents to the adelaidenow survey said 18 was the right age to drink legally, 37.1 per cent said the legal drinking age should be lifted to 21.

Medical groups and experts said there was growing support and evidence for raising the legal drinking age.

The poll results follow the Australian Medical Association's call last month for the legal drinking age to be lifted to 25, which is the approximate age when the brain becomes fully developed. AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said more people were acknowledging the problems caused by alcohol.

"A figure of more than 30 per cent support tells me that the population is starting to think about alcohol in a more comprehensive way and recognising the damage that alcohol is causing to our young people," he said

Full Article

Teenagers drowning in booze propaganda

 Australian Medicine Online | 1st October 2012

Alcohol companies are spending millions of dollars helping convince young people that drinking early and often is integral to having fun and being popular, according to a leading public health and marketing expert.

Professor Simone Pettigrew, Director of the Health Promotion Evaluation Unit at the University of Western Australia, told the AMA’s National Summit on Alcohol Marketing to Young People that alcohol manufacturers and liquor outlets spent an estimated $16 million on 2810 television ads in less than two months, most of it to promote beer and spirits.

Professor Pettigrew said the analysis, conducted in 2010, showed that humour and friendship were the predominant themes of the ads, but the marketing also sought to associate alcohol with sport and physical activity, and emphasised that it was good value for money.

Full Article

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September

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Mirror ball, mirror ball, in the school hall: are parents allowed any booze at all?

The conversation | 28th September 2012

The question of whether adults should be allowed to drink alcohol at school discos, fetes and sports games was thrust into the spotlight this week after the Australian Drug Foundation urged education departments to develop “alcohol management strategies” to ban drinking at school events.

Parents who drink at these events may consider there is a social benefit to doing so. But what does this behaviour mean for children and young people who might be watching and learning from the example set by their parents and teachers?

Full Article

Alcohol-fuelled violence causes serious head injuries, it must stop now writes Brian Owler

adelaidenow | 27th September 2012

WHEN the skull hits the pavement it makes a sickeningly loud cracking sound. If it is the result of a "king hit" the victim is usually already unconscious and so cannot protect themselves as they are falling.

The sudden stop of the head on the pavement means that the brain is squashed against the skull and rebounds. If death does not result immediately then the brain bruises and swells.

Weeks of treatment in intensive care follows and if the patient survives, brain damage is common. Neurosurgeons know this pattern all too well and too often it is a result of alcohol-fuelled violence.

Alcohol-fuelled violence is unfortunately a pervasive part of our society and has been for too long.

Full Article

Fines for minors who enter pubs and clubs

The Sydney Morning Herald | 23rd September 2012

UNDERAGE drinkers and their parents would be fined up to $1000 for attempting to enter licensed premises or even setting foot inside bottle shops under radical proposals by the state's pubs and clubs.

Pubs say all the onus on keeping minors out of drinking venues is on them at present and the NSW government should establish a deterrent for kids who play the game of sneaking inside a pub before they are legal.

Paul Nicolaou, the chief executive of the Australian Hotels Association, said: ''Kids should know there is a punishment - a fine of some sort - for trying to get into an establishment when you're not the legal age. And if the kid can't pay, the parents should have to pay and they can get the money back from their child in some way. At the moment there is no deterrent.''

Full Article 

Doctors plead for an end to the 'dumb drinking culture' in Australia

news.com.au | 16th September 2012

DOCTORS fed up with booze-fuelled violence are pleading for Australia's "incredibly dumb drinking culture" to be stamped out through increasing tax on alcohol, raising the minimum age, forcing pubs and clubs to close earlier, watering down alcopops and shaming drunk dads.

Their appeal follows a News Limited investigation which has revealed not only the shocking community cost of Friday and Saturday night mayhem - but that our hospital emergency departments can no longer cope.

In-depth analysis of 175 king-hit media reports over the past seven years reveals 82 per cent occurred on weekends, most commonly in the witching hours between midnight and 4am.

About 70 per cent happened in or near pubs or clubs.

Full Article

Drug & Alcohol Handbook for Aboriginal Health Workers 

Drug And Alcohol Handbook Responds To Call From Aboriginal Health Workers

It has to fit in the glove box and you shouldn’t need a medical degree to make sense of it. It needs to be practical and useful to someone working in Cape York or in Adelaide. I’d like it to help me work with families, the community and keep track of the latest sleeping pills, inhalants or illegal drugs as well as the latest treatments.

In response to such requests, and in a first for Australia, a handbook written with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals has answered the call for a comprehensive resource to help clinicians address alcohol and drug issues.

The Handbook for Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Work, which the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir will publicly launch on 10 September, is written specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

Full Article

Cigs Up: Smokers to pay more

9 News | 5th September 2012

In a move to prop up its promise of delivering a surplus in 2012/13, the Labor government has proposed to lift the tobacco excise tax by 25%. This would raise $5 billion over four years, according to a report in The West Australian.

The proposal would lift the price of a pack of 30 cigarettes by $2.62, and may be timed to coincide with the introduction of mandatory plain-packaging for tobacco products from the 1st December

 Full Article

'Louise Vuitton' designer death drug hits the streets

Herald Sun | 2nd September 2012

A DEADLY batch of ecstasy pills branded one of the most dangerous to ever hit the streets has been linked to at least one death and a spate of overdoses.

The tablets, imprinted with the Louis Vuitton symbol, are suspected to have been involved in a 22-year-old man's death after a Brisbane house party last weekend.

Several of his friends also ended up in hospital after taking the same drugs, with emergency department staff confirming a spike in ecstasy overdoses.

Police, the health department, the ambulance service and the coroner were all alerted to overdoses or a potential bad batch before the death but there has been no public warning.

Full Article

Internet Ads up in Smoke

The Age | 2nd September 2012

FURTHER restrictions on the online advertising of tobacco products will come into place this week as the federal government looks for ways to reduce the smoking rate further.

From Thursday, online tobacco advertisements will be largely banned as the internet becomes subject to the same restrictions as other media.

''These changes will limit the exposure of the public, particularly young people, to tobacco advertising on the internet, or published advertising, for example via mobile phones,'' Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek said. ''Smoking kills 15,000 Australians a year and we are committed to our fight to rid Australia of this product, which, if used as the manufacturer recommends, will kill the user.''

The federal government last month celebrated a victory in the High Court which rejected the tobacco industry's challenge to legislation that will ban brand logos and trademarks on cigarette packets from December 1.

The regulations that come into force this week will require tobacco retail websites to list products for sale in plain black and white text only.

Full Article

Booze and drugs culture rife in construction industry: study

Brisbane Times | 3rd September 2012

For better or worse, construction has a blokey reputation, but new research from Brisbane finds a "hazardous" consumption of recreational drugs and booze is latest problem facing the industry.

And the macho culture is partly to blame, alongside high wages and transient job patterns, according the Queensland University of Technology team that led the national survey.

The Safety Impacts of Alcohol and Other Drugs in Construction study drew nearly 500 workers from all areas of the industry across Australia and involved surveys and interviews over two years.

The findings, presented today by project leader Professor Herbert Biggs at an international industry conference in Scotland, showed over 50 per cent of workers consumed alcohol at "hazardous" levels, and a further 15 per cent were at "significant risk of harm"

Full Article

UK Could Be A 'No Smoking Nation' By 2032

 Sky News (UK) | 1st September 2012

Senior doctors and anti-smoking campaigners have told Sky News they are working towards making the UK a no smoking nation within the next 20 years.

Leading specialist Professor John Britton has called on the Government to back the goal, describing it as entirely realistic.

"Andrew Lansley could make himself a legacy greater than that of almost any other Health Secretary in history," Professor Britton, who chairs the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, said.

"I think it will be entirely realistic for all practical purposes to eradicate smoking within 20 years."

Full Article

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August

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Duty-free smokes crackdown to cause delays.

Herald Sun | 31st August 2012

CUSTOMS has admitted there may be delays for smokers entering Australia as they get used to new limits on the number of duty-free cigarettes that can be brought into the country.

From today, travellers will be able to bring in only 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco.

The previous limit was 250 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco.

The change was announced in the May budget.

Smokers who declare excess tobacco themselves can either abandon the additional product or pay duty and GST on the lot.

Those caught exceeding the limit will have to pay duty and GST on everything or dump it all.

Full Article

Study looks at the dangers of 50-cent cask wine

Herald Sun | 29th August 2012

IT is possible to exceed the healthy drinking limit of two drinks per day by spending just 50 on cask wine, according to a new study which calls for an end to the discount tax rate on wine.

The move would triple the price of cask wine and earn the Government $1.5 billion a year.

Cask wine is currently taxed at 8 per standard drink but full strength beer is slugged with a tax rate of 42 and spirits 92. In a submission to a government inquiry into whether a minimum price should be placed on alcohol the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education says ending the discount taxation of wine should be a higher priority

Full Article

Industry attacks alcohol abuse research

Sydney Morning Herald | 29th August 2012

IN THE face of calls for measures to counter grog abuse, the alcohol industry is financing an academic critique of "nanny state" measures, importing a New Zealand economist who challenges a $15 billion estimate of the annual cost of alcohol abuse in Australia.

The move comes as an alcohol research group today releases research showing that alcohol is far more affordable today than it was 30 years ago, to back its calls for heavier taxes on cheap alcohol.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), commissioned the Australia Institute study which found that incomes have risen at three times the rate of alcohol prices in the past 30 years and that the cheapest wine now cost less than bottled water.

The NZ economist, Eric Crampton, yesterday told an alcohol industry-sponsored briefing in Canberra that a widely-cited Australian study had relied on incorrect economic arguments to support "paternalistic" policy to combat excessive drinking.

Full Article

Prolonged cannabis use leads to drop in IQ, study shows

The Sydney Morning Herald | 28th August 2012

AUSTRALIAN doctors and health researchers have called for an anti-tobacco smoking-style campaign on the dangers of cannabis after a study found a link between long-term use of the drug and a significant, and possibly irreversible, drop in intelligence.

The landmark study, the first to compare the IQ of users before they began smoking the drug and after prolonged intake, found cognitive decline was most pronounced in people who started using as teenagers.

A senior lecturer at the University of NSW's psychiatry department, Matthew Large, said the findings were particularly relevant to Australia, which had one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world.

Full Article

Drug users should be 'wary of legal highs'

The Australian | 28th August 2012

DRUG users are being urged to be wary of buying harmful "legal high" stimulants over the internet.

Mephedrone - a drug also known as "miaow miaow" and bath salts - is banned in most parts of Australia.

Kronic, a synthetic cannabis, is also illegal.

But other drugs, known as "legal highs", are still available through many of Australia's 100 internet retailers, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) says.

NDARC director Professor Michael Farrell said users needed to beware of the substances they are buying online, which are often sold under various misleading names.

Full Article 

Alcohol use putting workers at safety risk

The Herald Sun | 28th August 2012

MELBOURNE, Aug 28 AAP - Many Australian construction workers are putting their safety at risk by drinking heavily and using drugs, a national survey shows.

The study of almost 500 labourers, managers and office staff in the construction industry found 58 per cent were consuming alcohol at hazardous levels and 15 per cent were at significant risk of harm.

The research also found more than a third had used ecstasy or amphetamine substances in the past year and 16 per cent had used marijuana.

These levels of use were higher than those in the general population.

Full Article

Pot-Smoking Teens May Become Slower-Thinking Adults

U.S Research/Study | 28th August 2012

Teens may lose IQ points later in life if they smoke marijuana before age 18, according to a study that follows a survey showing use of the drug has increased in this age group for four straight years.

The research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found an average decline of eight points on IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests done at age 13 and 38 among those who began using marijuana as teenagers. That compared with no decrease in those who used pot later in life, and a slight increase in those who never used it.

Because marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the U.S., looking into how it changes the brain is important, said Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who led the study

Full Article

Roxon's family motivation for plain-packaging push

ABC News | 28th August 2012

Nicola Roxon, the woman credited with spearheading the Federal Government's unprecedented win over 'big tobacco' has spoken of the personal motivation behind her drive to see Australia become the first country to legislate plain packaging of cigarettes.

The ABC's Australian Story has taken a behind-the-scenes look at what drives Australia's first female Attorney-General, and the impact the tobacco-related death her father had on her time in Cabinet.

Ms Roxon was 10 when her father Jack Roxon died of a tobacco-related illness.

 Full Article

Prison drugs report backs ACT needle exchange

ABC News | 28th August 2012

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher is using a national report on drugs in prisons to urge opponents of a needle exchange program to change their minds.

The four-year investigation by the Australian National Council on Drugs found the millions of dollars spent trying to stop drugs entering prisons is not working, and the money would be better spent on treatment and harm minimisation.

full Article

Legal highs 'could trigger psychosis,' say drug experts

Perth Now | 27th August 2012

DRUG users are being urged to be wary of buying harmful "legal high" stimulants over the internet.

A growing number of websites are selling "legal high" drugs with unknown ingredients, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre says.

Mephedrone - a drug also known as "miaow miaow" and bath salts - is banned in most parts of Australia.

Kronic, a synthetic cannabis, is also illegal.

Full Article 

The 'drunk' mirror aims to deter drink drivers

Potential drink-drivers could soon be deterred from jumping behind the wheel by a bathroom mirror.

The mirrors look just like regular bathroom mirrors, but are actually fitted with a camera that feeds a high-resolution reflective video screen. Instead of having a perfect reflection, the mirror pauses for a short moment before changing.

After showing the person a delayed reaction for a few seconds, the mirror then flashes up messages about drink-driving, such as: “This is how slow your reflexes are after only a few drinks”. The tag-line for the campaign is: “Getting home safely starts with a good look at yourself”.

 Full Article  OR    click here to watch the video

Tobacco ban for people born after the year 2000 passes Tasmanian upper house

New Statesman (world afairs) | 27th August 2012

The Tasmanian legislative council, the upper house of the Australian state's bicameral legislature, has passed a motion calling for sales of tobacco to anyone born after the year 2000 to be banned. The law, if passed through the lower house, would result in an effective outlawing of tobacco around the year 2100 in the state.

The act is unlikely to make it through the entire legislative procedure, however: the Labor health minister is in favour of it, but their coalition partners in the state, the Greens are opposed, as are the opposing Liberal party. In fact, the motion likely only made it this far due to the unusually un-partisan nature of the Legislative Council – 13 of the 15 members are independent.

Full Article

Study says people smoking at young age suffer from greater amount of artery damage

Swiss Study | 27th August 2012

Study conducted by Swiss researchers show that people who smoke cigarettes at a young age have a greater amount of artery damage that can lead to cardiovascular disease.

According to a research led by Julia Dratva, a doctor at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and presented at the European Society of Cardiology in Munich, the narrowing of the carotid artery, known as CIMT was detected in the young smokers between 8 and 20 years of age.

The study found that tobacco cigarettes caused an increased thickness of 0.043 millimeters in the blood vessels compared to adults who were non-smokers.

Full Article

Even light drinking increases cancer risk

The Independent (UK) | 26th August 2012

Just one alcoholic drink a day may increase the risk of cancer, according to a new study, which estimates that light drinking is responsible for 34,000 deaths a year worldwide.

New research based on more than 150,000 men and women shows that light drinking increases the likelihood of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and breast.

One drink a day increased the risk of cancer of the oesophagus by almost a third, according to the study being reported in the Annals of Oncology, which analysed data from more than 200 research projects. Low alcohol intake increased the risk of oral cavity and pharynx cancer by 17 per cent, and breast cancer in women by 5 per cent.

Full Article

The hidden costs of alcohol and junk food

Canberra Times | 26th August 2012

AUSTRALIANS would rejoice if medical science could prevent 30 per cent of cancer deaths in this country, yet a solution is already available.

Cancer Council of Australia chief executive Ian Olver says a dramatic reduction of cancer deaths is possible, simply with lifestyle changes. Those choices include not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, eating healthy food and reasonable exercise.

The recent ruling by Australia's High Court which in effect supported the government's decision to require cigarettes to be sold in olive-brown packets seems likely to limit the uptake of smoking by young people, but this is only one component of what should be a far broader approach to improving Australia's overall health.

Estimating the economic cost to Australia of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is reasonably inexact. It seems the most credible work on this is by Collins and Lapsley, and that data is based on 2004-05 figures. However, it certainly gives an indication of the need to address the use of these drugs.

In summary, in 2004-05, tobacco smoking was estimated to cost Australian society $31.5 billion; the consumption of alcohol, $15.3 billion; and the social cost of illicit drug use was estimated at $8.2 billion. We now need a study of the social cost of junk food.

Full Article

Alcohol Plan pitched to NSW Premier

Fare | 25th August 2012

 Australia’s leading alcohol research and education body has presented NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell with a comprehensive plan to reduce alcohol-related harms in NSW.

In the wake of last week’s announcement that the NSW Government would introduce new restrictions to tackle alcohol-related violence in Kings Cross, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has urged the Premier to go further and introduce proven measures that will result in substantial reductions in alcohol-related harms.

In addition to addressing the availability and oversupply of alcohol, the plan also advocates a ‘user pays’ model that would see late night licenced premises contribute to the cost of alcohol-related harms through the introduction of risk-based licencing fees, proposes that communities be given greater say on the availability of alcohol in their community, and calls for the introduction of appropriate transport and crowd management options in high density areas.

Full Article

Alcohol linked to degenerative eye disease

The West Australian | 22nd August 2012

Drinking more than the recommended daily amount of alcohol has been linked to eye disease.

Consuming more than 20g of alcohol a day was associated with an increase in early age-related macular degeneration of about 20 per cent in men and women compared with non-drinkers.

The study was adjusted for other age-related macular degeneration factors including sex, age, smoking and diet.

A standard glass of wine or beer each contains about 15g of alcohol.

Previous studies have highlighted the risk of heavy drinking on eye health but there was little evidence until now about the association between moderate drinking and age-related macular degeneration, study author Madeleine Adams said

Full Article 

Austalian court deals blow to global tobacco giants by ruling that cigarettes must be sold in plain packaging WITHOUT brading

MailOnline (UK) | 15th August 2012

Australia is banning the sale of branded packaging of tobacco produts after the High Court dismissed a challenge from international cigarette companies on the new anti-tobacco marketing laws.

The court ruled the laws did not breach Australia's constitution dispelling the claim by tobacco companies that they were unconstitutional because they effectively extinguished their intellectual property rights.

Full Article

Parents don't tell the truth about alcohol at kids' parties, expert Paul Dillon says

adelaidenow | 10th August 2012

PARENTS often lie to each other about serving alcohol at their children's parties, a drug and alcohol expert says.

Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia director Paul Dillon said it should be against the law to provide other people's children alcohol even at a private home.

"Parents are lying to other parents," he said. "They will call and ask, 'will you be providing alcohol?'

"And (one of these other) parents will turn around and say, 'no, there will be no alcohol at the party', and it's actually a lie.

"There should be a law against that.

"If a parent provides alcohol to other children, that is very shameful because basically you're pushing your values on to others."

Mr Dillon, who gave presentations at South Australian high schools, including Adelaide's Pulteney Grammar, over the past few weeks, said because some parents provide alcohol at parties it puts other mums and dads in a "terrible position" because if they refused, they were not the "cool parents".

Full Article

Marijuana and memory: study shows it's not good news

The Sydney Morning Herald | 9th September 2012

Australian scientists say they have proved that persistent heavy marijuana use damages the brain's memory and learning capacity. Their study showed for the first time the earlier people developed a cannabis habit, the worse the damage.

Scientists from Melbourne's Murdoch Childrens Research Institute (MCRI), Melbourne University and Wollongong University used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 59 people who had been using marijuana for 15 years on average. The images were compared with scans of 33 healthy people who had never used the drug.

Full Article

Scientists show 2-drug combination has potential to fight cocaine addiction

LA JOLLA, CA, August 8, 2012 – A fine-tuned combination of two existing pharmaceutical drugs has shown promise as a potential new therapy for people addicted to cocaine—a therapy that would reduce their craving for the drug and blunt their symptoms of withdrawal.

In laboratory experiments at The Scripps Research Institute, the potential therapy, which combines low doses of the drug naltrexone with the drug buprenorphine, made laboratory rats less likely to take cocaine compulsively—a standard preclinical test that generally comes before human trials.

While the two-drug combination would have to prove safe and effective for people in clinical trials before approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the work represents a significant advance in the field because there are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine addiction.

Full Article

Teen pot smokers develop anxiety

The Sydney Monring Herald | 7th August 2012

TEENAGERS who smoke cannabis weekly are more than twice as likely as non-users to develop an anxiety disorder in their late 20s, even if they stop using the drug, new research has shown.

The research, published in the journal Addiction, drew on the results of a landmark 15-year study of nearly 2000 Victorian secondary students. An analysis of data collected between 1992 and 2008 found teenagers who smoked cannabis once a week or more for a period of at least six months doubled their risk of having an anxiety disorder for up to a decade afterwards. About 12 per cent of teenagers in the study - or one in eight - smoked cannabis at that level.

The association between cannabis use and anxiety disorders persisted even when researchers took into account other possible explanations, including pre-existing mental health problems or other drug use.

Full Article

Plain packaging of cigarettes encourages young smokers to heed health warnings

EurekAlery | 7th August 2012

New research published online in the scientific journal Addiction shows that plain packaging (requiring cigarettes to be packaged in standard packages without attractive designs and imagery) may help to draw the attention of some adolescent smokers to the health warnings on the package. If so, this may in turn deter young smokers from continuing to smoke.

Researchers asked eighty-seven teenage secondary school (high school) students from the city of Bristol, UK, to look at twenty images of cigarette packs on a computer screen for ten seconds each while a device tracked their eye movements. Some packs were plain, carrying only the name of the brand in a plain font and a standard pictorial health warning. The rest were the conventional and colourful packs of ten popular cigarette brands, which included the same health warnings.

Students who had never smoked paid attention to the health warnings on both plain and branded cigarette packets, while daily smokers tended to avoid looking at any health warnings at all. But students who were occasional (non-daily) smokers, or had tried smoking at least once, paid more attention to the health warnings on the plain packs than to those on the branded packs.

Full Article

India may adopt Australia's plain packaging laws

The Sydney Morning Herald | 5th August 2012

AUSTRALIA'S push for plain cigarette packaging has inspired India to consider similar laws, opening up a new frontier in the fight to reduce tobacco consumption.

A taskforce of Australian and Indian public health experts last week presented a report to the New Delhi Parliament urging India, the world's second-largest tobacco consumer and producer, to act. The report, by the Australia-India Institute based at the University of Melbourne, found 275 million Indians, or more than a third of the population, use tobacco, leading to nearly 1 million deaths a year. Many are children who are increasingly getting hooked on chewing tobacco, causing rates of oral cancer to soar.

The Indian government has welcomed the report's recommendations, with Shakuntala Gamlin, joint secretary in the Ministry of Health, stating: "We have a huge young population addicted to tobacco. Plain packaging, particularly the Australian case study, can be an example for India.''

Full Article

Look after your lungs & brain

News.com.au | 4th August 2012

MILLIONS are at risk of lung disease and dementia – find out if you’re one of them and what you can do to protect your health.

- The Australian Lung Foundation says:

1. Don’t smoke. If you do, quit

“The most important thing is to acknowledge the harm smoking is doing and try to quit,” says Professor Matthew Peters, spokesman for The Australian Lung Foundation (ALF).

Smoking puts you at high risk for lung cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, chest and lung illnesses and the deterioration of asthma.

Full Article

Advertising watchdog slams alcohol companies

ABC News | 2nd August

Alcohol companies targeting young people through promotions and sport sponsorship, have been slammed in the first report from a new advertising watchdog.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board was formed in March by Western Australian health advocates amid concerns the alcohol industry's voluntary regulation system was inadequate.

Since then, it has received 63 complaints about advertisements, 25 of which were found to have contravened the industry's code.

Those include liquor companies supporting music festivals and sporting events, and advertisements being placed near schools.

Full Article

Drug in workout drinks to be illegal

The Sydney Morning Herlad | 1st August 2012

A number of popular workout supplements will become illegal from next week, following a decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) - ound in popular pre-workout drinks like Jack3d - was recently banned in Canada and New Zealand after reports of adverse health effects.

They probably felt the harms from its use as a party drug outweighed any benefits in its use as a supplement in bodybuilding and weight loss

The drinks, which are usually bought as powder and mixed with water, are said to heighten energy and alertness

Full Article

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July

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Police blast drug culture after festival finds

The Sydney Morning Herald | 31st July 2012

Police say the drug culture at Australian music festivals is getting worse, after a crack-down at the Splendour in the Grass event over the weekend.

More than 400 people were found with drugs including amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy at Byron Bay, on the New South Wales north coast.

About 20,000 revellers were at the festival between Thursday and Sunday.

Officers searched 730 people and 30 vehicles during the operation, which also employed detection dogs.

They say they found 421 people with drugs, including six juveniles who will be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act.

Full Article

Study shows how tobacco weakens bones

ASH | 30th July 2012

A new study shows how tobacco smoke weakens bones by blocking the replacement of bone cells.

ASH Australia has welcomed the study and slammed the tobacco industry for staying silent on decades of research on their product’s bone-shattering harm.

Says Anne Jones, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Australia: “We know smoking and secondhand exposure can cause osteoporosis - weakening of bones – which increases fracture risk and is a major cause of disability. This new study shows how it happens.”

According to Osteoporosis Australia, the disease causes an admission to an Australian hospital every 5-6 minutes - expected to rise to every 3-4 minutes by 2021 as the population ages and bone fractures increase.

full Article

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June

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 No plan for alcohol ads ban

The Age | 27th June 2012

HEALTH Minister Tanya Plibersek says banning alcohol sponsorship of sporting events is not on the government's agenda.

Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy announced on Saturday the government's new ''Be the Influence'' strategy in which 12 sporting organisations agreed to end alcohol sponsorship arrangements.

''We think banning alcohol sponsorship is a step too far,'' Ms Plibersek told Sky News yesterday. She said the government had ''no intention of banning alcohol advertising''.

Full Article

Sports get $25m to curb binge drinking

Brisbane Times | 24th June 2012

TWELVE sports associations will become teetotal when it comes to alcohol sponsorship after a $25 million deal with the government.

The groups have struck a deal to promote safe alcohol consumption by adults, alcohol-free sporting environments for minors and to reduce alcohol promotion in their codes.

But the AFL and NRL were not part of the deal. Those that do have a stake include national associations for soccer, basketball, netball, swimming, cycling, hockey, athletics, skateboarding, volleyball, equestrian, triathlon and canoeing. They will be precluded from sponsorship that promotes alcohol consumption as it would be in conflict with the health campaign message of Be the Influence, Tackling Binge Drinking.

Full Article

Australians are living longer but getting fatter, a new report says

The Daily Telegraph | 23rd June 2012

AUSTRALIANS are living longer - but also getting fatter, eating badly and not doing enough exercise, a report card on the nation's health reveals.

Obesity rates continue to grow, with Australian men rated the second most obese in the developed world and women the fifth highest.

About three million Australians are obese - 25 per cent of adults and 8 per cent of children - with only 50 per cent eating the recommended two serves of fruit a day and less than one in 10 eating five serves of vegetables each day.

While we might be a sport-loving nation, only 40 per cent of Australians aged over 15 do enough exercise.

Full Article

Doctors warn drinking mothers of baby danger

ABC News | 22nd June 2012

Health researchers and doctors say the Northern Territory could have the highest rate of foetal alcohol syndrome in the nation.

A federal parliamentary committee is investigating how Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder can be better treated around Australia.

The disorder can cause physical and mental defects in babies when they are exposed to excessive amounts of alcohol in the womb.

The Menzies Institute of Health Research and paediatricians from Royal Darwin Hospital say there is no data on the incidence of the disorder in the Territory but it is believed to be very high.

Full Article

Wine warnings 'to cause fear and guilt'

The Australia | 20th June 2012

PREGNANT women could be panicked into abortions if health warnings make them feel guilty about drinking, the Winemakers Federation has told a parliamentary inquiry into alcohol-related birth defects.

Australia's health ministers will make cigarette-style health warnings mandatory on bottles and cans of wine, beer and spirits, unless the alcohol industry brings in its own labelling system within 18 months.

Winemakers and brewers are already using a pictogram of a pregnant woman, with a warning based on National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines that "it is safest not to drink while pregnant".

Full Article

No alcohol for pregnant women: campaign

The West Australian | 19th June 2012

A new West Australian campaign is urging pregnant women to say no to alcohol.

The campaign, the first of its kind in Australia, is aimed at women of child-bearing age who consume low to moderate amounts of alcohol.

It is designed to dispel myths about alcohol and says that zero alcohol is the safest option when pregnant or trying to get pregnant. 

Full Article

Improving the health of Australia, one Sunday at a time 

Drink Tank | 18th June 2012

Over the last ten years FARE has invested more than $115 million, helped 750 organisations and funded over 1,400 projects addressing the harms caused by alcohol misuse. One of these FARE-funded programs was an evaluation of Hello Sunday Morning (HSM).

According to the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, in Australia, alcohol is second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of drug-related death and hospitalisation. Alcohol accounts for 13 per cent of all deaths among 14 to 17-year-old Australians — with approximately one Australian teenager dying and more than 60 hospitalised each week from alcohol-related causes.

It is this kind of information that inspired Chris Raine to establish HSM, a blogging website that encourages young people to undertake a period of sobriety and reflect on their drinking habits. To date, more than 4,500 HSMers have chosen to take a break from alcohol and reflect on its role in their lives.

Full Article

Plea for help over alcohol-fuelled violence in Penrith

Penrith Press | 16th June 2012

LOCAL licensees are putting their heads together and asking the community to offer solutions to a notorious after-midnight problem: alcohol-fuelled violence.

The main issue is the ``migration problem'', where patrons move from one venue to another late at night, consuming alcohol as they travel.

While Panthers is still taking measures to erase its name from NSW's Level 1 violent venues list, chief operating officer Sue McNeill is searching for a solution to young people's restlessness after midnight.

Full Article

How to set teens up for a healthy relationship with alcohol

Young Australians are exposed to a range of risks from alcohol, both from drinking themselves and other people’s use. According to the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey:

  • A third of 14- to 19-year-olds drank at levels that put them at risk of injury at least once during the previous month;

  • Around 28% of 14- to 19-year-olds reported being victims of alcohol-related verbal abuse (and 13% were victims of alcohol-related physical abuse) in the previous 12 months.

Parents may believe they no longer influence their teen’s behaviour and the choices they make about using alcohol. But the evidence tells us that what parents do, how they communicate their expectations to their children and whether they supply alcohol does influence their children’s choices.

Full Article

Push to class foetal alcohol syndrome a disability

ABC News | 6th June 2012

A push to have foetal alcohol syndrome formally recognised as a disability in Australia is being launched today.

Foetal alcohol disorders cover a range of physical and mental impairments caused to a child by a woman drinking alcohol while pregnant.

Researchers into the disorder will present the position paper today at the second National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee in Perth.

Full Article

Our relationship with alcohol

ABC | 5th June 2012

We looked at the highs and lows of illicit drugs last week during our Friday talkback. But there was one drug we didn’t touch on, and that’s because this drug is legalalcohol.

Whether or not you use it, alcohol is very much a part of Australian culture and identity: at the footy, going out with friends on a Saturday night, settling in to watch a movie, at work functions and weddings.

But how does the alcohol drug affect us? Our bodies? Our relationships? In the short- and long-term?

Full Broadcast

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May

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Prisoners given patches as jail bans smoking

ABC News | 29th May 2012

Inmates at a maximum-security prison in the central west of New South Wales are being issued free nicotine patches to deal with a trial ban on smoking.

Lithgow jail is running the trial, becoming the first in the state to ban smoking in its buildings.

Both prisoners and staff will now have to be in designated outdoor areas before they can light up.

Corrective Services says figures show 75 per cent of male inmates and 81 per cent of female prisoners smoke.

The New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith SC says the ban is designed to improve conditions in the prison.

"It's something that's long overdue," he said.

Full Article

Soft stance on drugs a dangerous catalyst

The Sydney Morning Herald | 28th May 2012

As the opposition health spokesman, I am acutely aware of the harm caused by illicit drugs. As a former police officer, I contributed to this difficult fight in the real world. As a father I understand how dear children are to parents no matter their circumstances.

A recent report by the non-profit group Australia21 advocates decriminalisation with the strongly emotive title The Prohibition of Illicit Drugs Is Killing and Criminalising Our Children and We Are All Letting it Happen. I strongly oppose ending illicit drug prohibition because it would be a dreadful experiment with the future of our children, who are the very fabric of our nation. I contend that the decriminalisation of illicit drugs would be more likely to kill and criminalise children and we should not let it happen.

Full Article

Misuse of medicines the new danger

The Sydney Morning Herald | 28th May 2012

THE misuse of prescribed pharmaceuticals is Australia's fastest growing drug problem, raising the possibility that deaths from prescribed drugs may eventually surpass those from illicit drug overdoses, doctors have warned.

Structural issues in the health system including limitations of GP consultations and rapid hospital discharges are contributing to an explosion in prescriptions for opiods, benzodiazepines and codeine-containing analgesics.

Full Article

Parents targeted in teen booze crackdown

The Sydney Morning Herald | 25th May 2012

Police will be given new powers to stop parents turning a blind eye to under-age drinking, making it a criminal offence to host house parties where alcohol is consumed by under-18s.

Under the plan being pushed by the O'Farrell government to make it easier for police to fight the teenage booze culture, adults would face a maximum 12 months' jail for supplying alcohol to any minor who is not their own child. Police and academics have welcomed the push, saying it has to be made clear drinking ''begins at 18, not before''. But civil liberties groups warned against turning parents into criminals over a ''sip of champagne''.

Full Article

Take it from an ex-addict, outlawing drugs does not work

WA Today: Opinion | 25th May 2012

When society hates and fears you, criminal conviction means little.

FOR five anguished, exhausting and educative years in the 1990s I, like thousands of other ordinary Australians, was addicted to heroin. And I can honestly say that during that time the thought that heroin was illegal was very far from the top of my mind.

I was focused on protecting myself from violence, hoping to avoid overdose, battling overwhelming messages of shaming and hostility from society, and simply getting through each day without collapsing. In this way, although I was never actually charged with using heroin, the criminal penalties attached to the drug would inevitably propel me further and further into a dark, unhappy, alienated and criminal world.

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Alcohol, drugs, a factor in crimes, says report

The Sydney Morning Herald | 24th May 2012

FIFTY two per cent of Australians arrested for crimes say alcohol or drug use was a factor, according to an Institute of Criminology report released today.

The report, based on data, including urine samples and interviews, collected by the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program at nine police stations in 2009, found of 1631 police detainees who had used drugs or alcohol, 52 per cent admitted it was a factor in their crime.

The figure was higher for alcohol use (41 per cent) than illegal drug use (33 per cent). The illegal drug most often cited was heroin (54 per cent). Almost half of heroin users said they committed their crime to pay for their habit

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Reprieve for some AOD service provides

Of Substance: National Magazine | 24th May 2012

Following recent announcemnets that scores of alcohol and other drug (AOD) service provides would no longer receive Federal Government funding, some of those services have been granted a three-year reprieve.

It appears the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has listended and responded positively to the concern expressed by many AOD sector leaders and service providers about the impact the funding changes would have on people who have problems with substance use, particulary vulnerable groups such as Indigenous populations, families and people with a dual diagnosis of drug and mental health problems.

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The trouble with cannabis

The Herald  | 24th May 2012

Depending on who you talk to, cannabis is either the scourge of our youth - threatening to turn us all into mentally ill layabouts - or a peaceful, benign herb that not only will not hurt its users, but could actually treat many illnesses.

For a drug that is supposed to have a relaxing effect, it sure causes much consternation.

At the Herald's debate "Should the government decriminalise drugs", held on Monday night at the University of Sydney, audience members argued cannabis was a different kind of drug, a safe choice.

Australia, it seems, likes cannabis. The most recent figures indicate a little more than 10 per cent of people used cannabis last year, slightly up on 9 per cent the year before

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Why changing drug laws is a political problem, not a scientific one

The Sydney Morning Herald | 23rd May 2012

The overarching goal of Australian drug policy is harm minimisation. One obvious way to minimise drug related harm is to prohibit its use.

Of course, prohibition hasn't stopped illegal drug use any more than prohibiting drink-driving has stopped people from drinking and driving. It's entirely likely, however, that illicit drug consumption would be higher in the absence of prohibition.

Leaders criticised for lack of debate

The Sydney Morning Herald | 23rd May 2012

THE eminent public health campaigner David Penington has condemned political leaders over their failure to engage in a debate on drug use reform.

Professor Penington said he was not surprised by the negative reaction of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, to the Australia21 report calling for a drugs debate.

Professor Penington, who headed a drug inquiry recommending the decriminalisation of marijuana, said courageous leadership was ''not part of our political system at the moment on either side of politics. They just don't want to know.''

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24-hour mental health help line launched

Bigpond News | 23rd May 2012

People with mental health problems will be able to access help any time of the day with the launch of new 24-hour help line in NSW.

The line will operate seven days a week and provide a telephone triage assessment and referral service staffed by mental health clinicians.

It will also offer local treatment options for general practitioners, police and ambulance officers.

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Majority relaxed about cannabis use

The Sydney Morning Herald | 22nd May 2012

MORE than half of Australians support reduced legal penalties for use of drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy, an analysis of a federal government survey shows.

The findings contrast with the Herald/Nielsen poll released yesterday, which showed that two-thirds of people opposed decriminalisation.

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First smokes, now support for ban on booze ads

The Daily Telegraph | 22nd May 2012

BANS on advertising, health warnings on bottles and higher liquor taxes should be considered by the Federal Government to combat alcohol problems in Australia, a new poll reveals.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) released a Galaxy poll yesterday to showcase alcohol attitudes and behaviour in Australia. The poll first asked federal voting intentions and then asked them different questions about alcohol.

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Smoking-related diseases take up beds

9 News | 22nd May 2012

Two common smoking-related diseases are taking up half a million NSW hospital beds each year, a new study has found.

The study by the Bureau of Health Information has found patients with emphysema and congestive heart failure (CHF) stayed more than 500,000 days in hospital over 12 months in 2009-10.

Both diseases are linked to smoking, with cigarettes largely recognised as the leading cause of emphysema - one of Australia's largest killers.

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When drugs meet crime

The Age | 21st May 2012

Being tough on criminals may be a vote-winner, but putting addicts behind bars only causes other problems.

EACH country gets the drugs problem it deserves.'' This is the view of Antonio Maria Costa, the former head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. His explanation is blunt: countries that rely primarily on law enforcement to deal with drug addicts and their associated crimes, rather than treating users as sufferers, perpetuate an expensive cycle of addiction, crime, incarceration and recidivism.

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Sobering result: survey backs tough alcohol reform

The Sydney Morning Herald | 21st May 2012

A majority of Australians are demanding the federal government crack down on alcohol advertising, and many want it to consider a higher tax on beer and wine, according to a study to be released today.

The researchers say the overwhelming support of Australians surveyed across all political parties makes the government's continued inaction very puzzling.

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Two-thirds opposed to easing of drug laws

The Sydney Morning Herald | 21st May 2012

AUSTRALIANS remain firmly against relaxing illicit drug laws despite declarations by a group of eminent Australians and a global commission that the war on drugs has failed.

A Herald/Nielsen poll has found two-thirds of Australians oppose decriminalisation.

The latest poll finds 27 per cent of voters support decriminalisation, although that figure rises to 50 per cent of Greens and 34 per cent of Labor voters. Support among Liberal and National party voters is much lower, at 18 per cent.

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Policy on drugs endangers youth

The Sydney Morning Herald (opinion) | 21st May 2012

Drugs have become so normalised in today's youth culture the penalties just don't matter as much. Not only that, but the subcultures with the highest rates of drug consumption - raves, clubs, music festivals and hospitality - have the police almost turning a blind eye to small rates of drug consumption because it is already so common. Prohibition is not working.

In Portugal, drugs were decriminalised in 2001. Today there is a bulk of evidence pointing to Portugal as a leader in drug reform. Not only have rates of drug use declined in almost every measured category, but Portugal also has the least amount of drug use when compared with the EU countries with more stringent criminalisation measures.

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Cannabis hauls climb as police decry soft image

The Sydney Morning Herald |  21st May 2012

IT IS the drug of choice across the country and claims the largest share of the illicit drug market globally. But new figures have painted an even more alarming picture of Australia's marijuana trade, with authorities making a record number of cannabis seizures at the Australian border last year.

According to the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report 2010-11, the number of border detections increased by 47 per cent, from 1454 to 2137. There was also a staggering 255 per cent increase in the weight of cannabis seized, from 20 kilograms in 2009-10 to 69.6 kilograms last year.

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Fight to find drug labs in the suburbs

The Sydney Morning Herald | 20th May 2012

According to statistics from the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report, released last week, almost 70 per cent of clan labs are in residential areas.

Known to authorities as methamphetamine, detections of such substances account for about 15 per cent of all drug discoveries in NSW, including cannabis. They account for about 40 per cent of detections if cannabis isn't included.

In 2010-11, police shut down a record 703 of these operations across Australia.

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Alcohol's impact on babies - UN looks at Australian experience

Sydney University | 11th May 2012

An Australian film depicting the life of a young boy exposed to alcohol during his mother's pregnancy was shown at the United Nations headquarters in New York yesterday.

The documentary was produced as part of a major program on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), involving the University of Sydney and its partners.

It will form part of a presentation at the UN in the 11th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on Australian research on the disorder.

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Police backed in singling out bottle shops

The Sydney Morning Herald | 15th May 2012

A PROMINENT alcohol researcher has backed calls by the NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, to examine the role of bottle shop sales in areas with stubbornly high rates of domestic violence.

Michael Livingston, a research fellow at the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne, studied the density of all types of liquor outlets in Victoria and found bottle shops were key.

''As you increase bottle shops in a neighbourhood you increase rates of domestic violence and rates of chronic disease,'' he said. ''We know that they're concentrated up to eight times more in poor neighbourhoods than rich neighbourhoods in Victoria.''

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Call for remote area rehabilitation services

ABC News | 15th May 2012

An Aboriginal legal aid organisation says the Northern Territory Government must provide alcohol rehabilitation services in remote Indigenous communities.

The Federal and Territory governments have opened a new 16-bed, sobering-up shelter and transitional accommodation at Tennant Creek.

Jonathon Hunyor, from the North Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency, says efforts to stop alcohol-fuelled violence must include rehabilitation for people in their home communities.

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Alcohol a big factor in child harm, says study

The Sydney Morning Herald | 14th May 2012

CHILDREN are the victims of alcohol-related harm in more than a fifth of Australian households, a study has found, adding weight to calls for the price of alcohol sold in bottle shops to be increased to discourage high quantities being consumed in homes.

Most of the children were harmed by immediate family members or by other relatives, and the rest by the drinking of family friends, neighbours, coaches, religious leaders or others, according to the study, which is published in the latest edition of the international journal Addiction.

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Calling time on alcohol taxation in Australia

The Conversation | 14th May 2012

Alcohol is a prime target for taxation. It’s a good source of government revenue; it allows governments to recoup costs for providing services to drinkers (such as accident and emergency care and policing); it provides a mechanism for drinkers to pay for the harm they impose on others as a consequence of their drinking; it helps discourage excessive drinking due to information failure (not all drinkers are aware of all the risks of drinking and some harms are not yet understood) and drinkers’ tendency to discount the long-term harms of alcohol; and reduced consumption of alcohol has known public health benefits. Moreover, a recent Australian review of the evidence clearly showed alcohol taxation is cost-effective.

Given the utility and cost-effectiveness of alcohol taxation, the challenge is to identify an optimally efficient tax system: one that maximises the potential benefits of restrained alcohol consumption for the least amount of cost to those who don’t consume alcohol to excess.

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What young don't need: another bottle shop

The Sydney Morning Herald | 14th May 2012

WHILE the Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione's high level alcohol policy working group sets its sights on bottle shops, in one NSW suburb the residents say they already know the answer: stop building them.

Residents in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Mount Hutton who are attempting to stop a Woolworths bottle shop from being approved say liquor outlets should be treated under the same planning laws as brothels.

Residents say Mount Hutton, which has a high rate of alcohol-related assaults and vandalism, has enough liquor stores. They also oppose the BWS shop because it is close to a school.

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Police chief pushes for bottle shop clampdown

The Sydney Morning Herald | 14th May 2012

THE Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, has questioned the lack of regulation of purchases from bottle shops and linked the easy availability of take-away alcohol to stubbornly high rates of domestic violence.

The issue will be examined, at Mr Scipione's request, by a new alcohol policy working group comprising senior police and bureaucrats who will present options to the state government.

The Herald can reveal that the group, formed this year, is conducting a comprehensive review of the alcohol licensing system in response to an offer by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, last year to give police whatever support they needed to tackle alcohol-related violence.

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Police probing club's free alcohol offer to students

The Age | 13th May 2012

A PROMINENT St Kilda nightclub is under police investigation over claims its promoter used social media to induce under-age students to attend a party with offers of free alcohol.

The Sunday Age is aware of at least 20 students, some as young as 16, who were sent wrist-bands that entitled them to free beer, vodka and ''bubble cup cocktails'' at the opening of Homecoming Saturdays at the Prince of Wales Hotel on May 5. Guests were posted the wrist-bands after providing their addresses on the promoter's Facebook page but were not required to give any proof of age.

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Children harmed by alcohol abuse

The West | 10th May 2012

Almost a quarter of Australian families say children in their care are being harmed by alcohol, mostly through verbal abuse, research shows.

A national survey of 1142 parents or carers found 22 per cent of children were harmed in the previous year by the drinking of family, friends or neighbours. There was no difference between low and high-income homes, but children in single-parent homes were at greater risk.

The study, by Melbourne's Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, found children in one per cent of households were physically hurt as a result of alcohol abuse.

Researchers said the results were concerning and levels of binge drinking in Australia were high.

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April

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Young Aussies drink enough to be experts

The Sydney Morning Herald | 26th April 2012

If young people devoted as much time to their professions as they did to drinking, they would be leaders in their fields, a lobby group says.

Hello Sunday Morning says 18 to 28-year-olds who drink twice a week will spend approximately 10,000 hours drinking over that period.

HSM business development manager Jamie Moore says the alcohol culture in Australia is producing a generation of drinking experts.

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Study finds alcohol ads get to at least a quarter of kids

The Sydney Morning Herald | 25th April 2012

Half the alcohol ads shown on Australian television are shown at a time when at least 25 per cent of possible child viewers will be watching, new research led by the University of WA has found.

The findings, published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, noted that alcohol ads were banned during dedicated children's program times but found half of the screened ads were shown at a time when adults and children were commonly viewing.

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Fresh calls to tax alcohol per standard drink

WA Today | 23rd April 2012

WA medical experts have backed a submission to the Federal Budget calling for alcoholic drinks to be taxed according to their alcohol content, which would increase the cost of cleanskin and cask wine and traditional ciders.

The Alcohol Policy Coalition wants the federal government to introduce a volumetric tax in what it says would create a financial incentive to purchase lower-strength alcoholic beverages.

It also is calling for a minimum floor price on alcohol to prevent heavy discounting and raise the cost of high volume, high strength products such as cask wine. Such a move was recently made in the United Kingdom.

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Australians still not aware of smoking risk to heart: new report

 Heart Foundation Media Release | 20th April 2012

A major international report on tobacco has revealed that nearly half of all smokers are still unaware that secondhand smoke can cause heart attack.

The report Cardiovascular harms from tobacco use and secondhand smoke was released today at the World Health Federaton World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, attend by the National Heart Foundation of Australia's CEO Dr Lyn Roberts.

The report commissioned by the World Health Federation revealed:

  • In the UK, the USA and Australia, nearly half of smokers are unaware that secondhand smoke causes heart attacks in non-smokers
  • Even in countries with well-develop health systems and tobacco control regulation such as Canada, the UK, the USA and Australia between a third and a half of smokers do not know that secondhand smoke can cause heart disease.

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Tobacco giants fume at Australia's plans for unbranded cigarette packets

The Guardian | 20th April 2012

World's big four firms take fight against unbranded packs to high court as Australia moves to toughen anti-smoking laws.

They have been responsible for some of the most famous advertising and marketing campaigns in history, but this week the world's big four tobacco companies found themselves on the back foot. In a global test case, they went to Australia's highest court to try to block plans for cigarettes to be sold in unbranded packets.

From December, all cigarettes in Australia will have to be sold in olive-green packs with stark health warnings, graphic photos and no brand logos. Only company names will be permitted in a small, standard font.

British American Tobacco, Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International argue that moves to force them to use unbranded packaging are unconstitutional because they allow the government in effect to acquire their property – the trademarks and logos – without compensation.

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Energy drink binge leaves teens with more than a hangover

The Conversation | 19th April 2012

Manufacturers of energy drinks are coming under pressure from governments and regulatory bodies following concerns about the health impacts of their products on teenagers and other at-risk groups.

Typically, drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, Mother and Cocaine contain a cocktail of caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone and sugar. And they are heavily promoted to shift workers, students and long-haul drivers.

There’s growing international concern about the likely negative health effects of energy drinks. A growing body of research evidence directly links energy drink consumption to cardiovascular risk and other adverse health outcomes

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More Australians hitting the bottle, survey finds

The Australian | 18th April 2012

AUSTRALIA'S drinking problem seems to be getting worse rather than better, with the latest snapshot of the nation's alcohol habits finding more people are drinking significantly more than is good for them.    

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of 18-24-year-olds now say they are downing at least six standard drinks in a typical night out or other drinking session - considerably more than the four-drink limit recommended by health experts to minimise the risk of short-term harms such as accidents.

But the problem is also seen in the wider community, with the report released yesterday finding 1.7 million Australians are now drinking to excess in this way - a 4 per cent increase on the figure reported in the previous year's survey.

The figures were produced as part of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education's annual alcohol poll, which was conducted online by Galaxy Research poll using a representative sample of just over 1000 Australians.

 Full Article

Health expert challenges wine body on pregnancy labels

The Conversation | 18th April 2012

A claim by Australia’s peak wine body that warning labels on bottles could prompt pregnant women to seek terminations is an “outrageous attempt to put commercial interests ahead of public health”, a drugs and alcohol expert said.

The Winemakers' Federation made the suggestion in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The submission warns there is a “great risk” for women whose only understanding of the risks to the unborn baby came from labels.

In Australia, it is not a requirement that alcohol carry health warning labels, although there has been a concerted push in recent years to change that.

A poll by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education found that 61% of Australians support alcohol warning labels.

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Australia's alcohol problem, poll

Sky News | 17th April 2012

 A vast majority of Australians think the country has a serious booze problem and that binge drinking by young people is a blight on society.

The Annual Alcohol Poll, released on Tuesday, found that 76 per cent of those surveyed thought Australia suffered from a drinking problem.

Seventy-nine per cent believed the issue would either worsen or remain the same over the next five to 10 years.

Of the more than 1000 people surveyed for the third annual poll, 17 per cent viewed booze as the number one health threat facing the country, ahead of tobacco at 16 per cent and diabetes at eight per cent.

The research by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) also found that Australians were largely unaware of how many standard drinks were in a range of alcohol products, with 66 per cent underestimating how many drinks were in an average bottle of red wine.Full Article

Australia a nation of boozers: poll

9 News | 17th April 2012

More than 75 per cent of Australians believe the country has a problem with excessive drinking and alcohol abuse, a national poll has found.

The Annual Alcohol Poll, released on Tuesday, found that 76 per cent of those surveyed thought Australia suffered from a drinking problem.

Seventy-nine per cent believed the issue would either worsen or remain the same over the next five to 10 years.

Of the more than 1000 people surveyed for the third annual poll, 17 per cent viewed booze as the number one health threat facing the country, ahead of tobacco at 16 per cent and diabetes at eight per cent

Full Article

Australia tobacco plain packaging case in court

BBC News | 17th April 2012

The world's biggest tobacco firms are challenging the Australian government in court over a law on mandatory plain packaging for cigarettes.

The suit, led by British American Tobacco, is being watched around the world as a test case.

Australia last year passed legislation requiring all tobacco to be sold in plain packets with graphic health warnings from 1 December 2012.

It is the first country to pass such stringent packaging legislation.

The proceedings, being heard before the High Court in Canberra, are scheduled to run until Thursday. It is not clear when a decision might be reached.

"We're very conscious that we're being watched around the world," Australian Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said.

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Synthetic cannabinoids carry substantial risk say experts

ABC News | 13th Aprilb 2012

Drug experts warn that alternatives to organic cannabis are not safe

The synthetic cannabinoid compound known as blue puff will be banned Australia wide from the first of May.

According to those researching these drugs and their effects, as soon as some synthetic cannabinoids are banned, producers simply made another.

Professor Steve Allsop from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Institute explains that the substances were first produced in labs in an effort to discover whether or not they could be exploited for medicinal purposes.

Over 400 cannabinoids have been identified since the 1980s, he says.

While the government and producers were "playing cat and mouse" in some sense, there are good reasons to stay in the game, says Professor Allsop.

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Decriminalisaton or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform debate

The Conversation | 12th April 2012

We should all be concerned about our laws on illegal drugs because they affect all of us – people who use drugs; who have family members using drugs; health professionals seeing people for drug-related problems; ambulance and police officers in the front line of drug harms; and all of us who pay high insurance premiums because drug-related crime is extensive.

Drug-related offences also take up the lion’s share of the work of police, courts and prisons. But what can we do? Some people feel that we should legalise drugs – treat them like alcohol and tobacco, as regulated products. And legalisation doesn’t necessarily need to apply for every illegal drug.

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One in three youths on drug 'try suicide' - study

The Australian | 12th April 2012

ONE in three young people receiving treatment for drug and alcohol abuse from a Sydney charity have also attempted suicide, new research has found.

And three quarters of those receiving treatment are also suffering from mental health issues, the Noffs Foundation says.

The findings have been released on the eve of National Youth Week - which starts tomorrow - in an attempt to secure more support services for adolescents.

Noffs Foundation spokesman Matt Noffs says appropriate support is needed to help youths.

"The work we do with them isn't just about eliminating drug use, but providing vulnerable young people who have gone through trauma with the right support to put them back on track to reach their full potential in life," Mr Noffs said.

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Where there's smoke, there's good reason for higher health premiums

The Age | 12th April 2012

So it is a challenge to keep premiums affordable. One way to do this is to discourage risky behaviours that could increase claim costs.

Smoking, for example, is the single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia. Tobacco use causes almost 12 per cent of deaths - it is estimated that smoking will kill at least half of all regular smokers - and contributes almost 8 per cent to the burden of disease.

Governments have used several measures over the years to discourage people from smoking, including advertising restrictions, taxes, preventative health campaigns and plain packaging for cigarettes.

However, one bastion remains untouched

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Greens push for alcohol warnings

The Sydney Morning Herald | 12th April 2012

The federal government should disassociate itself from international objections to a Thai plan to introduce mandatory health warning labels on alcohol bottles, the Greens say.

Australia is one of a group of countries that have repeatedly raised concerns at the World Trade Organisation about a proposal by the government of Thailand to mandate health warnings on alcoholic beverages sold in its country.

The WTO is also being used as a forum by some countries to challenge Australia's tobacco plain packaging laws.

Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale said Australia should be following the example of Thailand and introducing compulsory health warnings on alcohol bottles instead of questioning the move. ''It's a huge public issue and unfortunately what we've got in Australia is industry labelling that is being driven by industry perspectives, rather than by public health perspectives,'' Senator Di Natale said.

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West backs U-Turn on approach to drugs 

Wyndham Weekly | 11th April 2012

WESTERN suburbs drug and alcohol experts have backed calls for greater focus on harm minimisation rather than law enforcement in tackling drug use.

A report by not-for-profit think-tank and independent research body Australia21 has argued that the tough-on-drugs policies have failed, putting control of drugs firmly in the hands of criminal elements.

The report concludes that low-level drug use should be decriminalised, with the large sums of money spent on law and order redirected to prevention and treatment services.

"Needle exchange programs, a medically supervised injecting centre, methadone maintenance programs and the de-penalisation of minor cannabis offences that was introduced in [two] states and both territories have all produced measurable and demonstrable benefits," the report states.

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Teens switch to alcohol, ecstasy

The West Australian | 11th April 2012

Australian teenagers appear to be swapping one drug for another, with a WA study finding they drink more alcohol and use more ecstasy when their marijuana use falls.

Researchers at the National Drug Research Institute said that between 1998 and 2007, fewer 14 to 19-year-olds smoked marijuana and the age at which teenagers first tried the drug rose from 14 1/2 to just over 15.

But, over the same period, rates of risky alcohol consumption and ecstasy use increased in the same age group.

There was also a drop in tobacco smoking, which was thought to affect rates of other types of smoking.

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Call for labels on bottles to warn of alcohol's danger to foetuses

The Sydney Morning Herald | 10th April 2012

FOSTER parents and public health groups have urged federal politicians to take urgent action to prevent more babies from suffering foetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

A parliamentary inquiry has been told that warning labels about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy should be mandatory on liquor bottles as part of a strategy to prevent the disorder.

The disorder refers to a variety of conditions that can affect the development of individuals, mainly because of damage in the developing central nervous system.

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Is disagreement over drugs policy based on facts or values?

WA Today | 10th April 2012

I've had a good deal of engagement with the media in recent days. It's taken me closer to "the real world of politics" where values and prejudices can be just as, or more important than, facts and evidence. Thus it is and more than likely will always be.

As part of the Australia 21 roundtable that produced a report on drugs policy I was asked to comment. It is an issue, of course, that involves a good deal of passion and emotion, factors that can impact significantly on the way individuals view the arguments and the evidence.

This leads us to ask the question: Is this debate over drug policy about the values people have or the evidence that has been gathered by the scientists?

Full Article

Australia's love affiar with drugs

The Conversation | 10th April 2012

Australians have always loved their drugs – more so than any other nation in which those same drugs are proscribed and used under threat of native, criminal penalties.

Drug taking is a national trait. We began as a nation of drug takers – drinking, inhaling, swallowing and even injecting easily accessible legal narcotics.

By the early years of Federation, fears about the exposure of pale European sensitivities to the intolerably harsh antipodean climes saw medicinal proprietors (or “quacks” in today’s medical terminology) foist some 600 different medicinal products in Australia, many containing significant amounts of narcotics

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The demon drink grabs the young  

The Telegrah | 9th April 2012

EASTER is a traditional occasion for spending time with family - but some families are spending time together in far less happy circumstances.  

As The Daily Telegraph reports, a rapidly increasing number of parents are seeking the intervention of detox organisations to help break their children's alcohol addiction.

The fact that alcohol addiction among teenagers and young adults is a major problem at all is cause for deep concern.

The fact that it's a growing problem, with parents attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in order to break the hold of booze upon their children, is a cause for even deeper concern.

These findings follow a concerted campaign by governments and health groups to alert parents to the dangers of alcohol addiction among young Australians.

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Rethink urged on prosecuting minor drug offences  

The Australian | 9th April 2012

AN expert on drug and alcohol abuse has called for a rethink about whether it is effective to throw legal and financial resources at prosecuting minor offences.  

Speaking on Sky News's Australian Agenda, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's Michael Farrell said more research was needed to determine what the benefit was to society from the current approach to policing illegal drug use.

"(We're) spending two-thirds of the money on enforcement, putting people in prison and that sort of thing and actually to figure out what's the best spend we can have" Professor Farrell said.

"We probably need to do a lot more -- evidence as to valuation around customs, policing and prisons and all that -- so that we actually get a better mix than we probably have at the moment."

Professor Farrell's comments follow a week of debate about the decriminalisation of illegal drugs, after think tank Australia21 released a report arguing the war on drugs had been lost and the tough approach to policing illegal drug use was doing more harm than good.

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Parents seek aid for boozing kids

Herald Sun | 9th April 2012

New figures show 10 per cent of teens aged 16 years and under admit to regular drinking sessions, where they consume 11 to 30 standard drinks.

Al-Anon Family Groups Australia has reported a spike in the number of parents of young alcoholics attending meetings, exasperated that their attempts to wean their kids off the bottle have failed. The group also held its first special support session specifically aimed at parents of alcoholics at the Alcoholics Anonymous national convention last week.

There was also a well-attended session entitled Young Persons meeting - getting sober under 25 aimed at giving youngsters the tools to break the binge-drinking cycle

Full Article

WA alcohol use among highest in the nation

The West | 4th April 2012

West Australians are bigger drinkers than their Eastern States counterparts across every measure with one in eight adults binge-drinking at least once a week, according to figures.

Almost half of people aged 18 and over report some binge-drinking, or having more than four standard drinks on any day, and 6 per cent claim to drink at this level every day or on most days.

Drug and Alcohol Office data, sourced from the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, shows drinking rates across all categories, from occasional drinking to risky consumption, are higher in WA compared with the Australian average.

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The war has failed - time now for new tactics

The Sydney Morning Herald | 4th April 2012

Nobody would claim that drugs are harmless, any more than they could say that alcohol was harmless. Alcoholism is a terrible social problem, but banning it never worked in the US. All prohibition did was create Al Capone.

A drugs war simply creates an illegal market and distribution networks, it corrodes the economy, it creates even more Al Capones (al-Qaeda makes millions from our stupidity), and it doesn't stop those who want to take drugs. It impacts on our health services and it encourages hypocrisy, it corrodes our entire system of government. It does not work. It corrupts.

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War on drugs an absolute bust

The Sydney Morning Herald | 4th April 2012

IT WAS the metaphor from hell that started this mess.

We can blame US president Richard Nixon, who in 1971 famously declared War On Drugs, and like Vietnam, it has proved to be unwinnable.

Perhaps it should have been compared to disease, where we don't look for total victory but rather see every person saved as a win.

If addictions were an Olympic event, Australia would medal every time. From cocaine in the 1920s, over-the-counter drugs in the 1950s, heroin in the '80s and the present designer pill push, we have been near first in the queue.

An Australian executive expat returned to Sydney recently on business and was shocked to see Friday afternoon happy hour had been replaced with the A-crowd popping pills like imported beers.

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Marijuana use 'fell after decriminalisation' in WA under Gallop government

The Australian | 3rd April 2012

CANNABIS use in Western Australia fell markedly after it was decriminalised - contrary to comments by Police Minister Rob Johnson that it had grown "extensively".  

Mr Johnson told reporters today that when former WA Labor premier Geoff Gallop decriminalised the smoking, possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana in 2004, he presided over a surge in drug use.

"We became known as the cannabis capital of Australia and we saw cannabis use grow extensively," Mr Johnson said.

"If you start decriminalising it, what you see is an increase in use."

Mr Johnson was responding to a think tank of prominent Australians that said the so-called war on drugs had been lost, and tougher laws were doing more harm than good.

However, statistics from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey show cannabis use among West Australians fell from 13.7 per cent in 2004 to 10.8 per cent in 2007.

Full Article

New push for drug decriminalisation

News.com.au | 3rd April 2012

THE drug use debate should be reopened, according to a report by not-for-profit think-tank Australia21.

The report, which was released today, says the war on drugs has failed and calls for a new discussion towards decriminalisation.

It was formulated after a panel of Australians, including former politicians and current foreign minister Bob Carr discussed the global war on drugs in January.

The report, titled The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen, called on the views of high profile Australians and health experts.

Full Article

Australian minister calls for rethink of drug laws

ABC Radio News | 3rd April 2012

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr says the policing of 'soft' drugs is a waste of police time, and that he would support their "effective decriminalisation".

A group of eminent Australians, including former federal police chief Mick Palmer and former New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Cowdery, has released a report which says the 'war on drugs' has failed.

The report concludes that Australia should consider legalising some substances.

Senator Carr, whose younger brother died of a heroin overdose, contributed to the report before entering federal politics.

He has stood by his contribution and said he did not think that other members of the Australian Government were far from his position.

Full Article

Wollongong treatment centre welcomes debate on drug policy

ABC News | 3rd April 2012

The manager of a Wollongong based drug and alcohol treatment centre has welcomed a new debate on the possible decriminalisation of some illicit drugs.

A report released today by think tank Australia21 finds the so-called war on drugs isn't working and other options need to be considered.

Former NSW Directory of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdry QC says in the report he is in favour of legalising, regulating and taxing all drugs.

Will Temple, the CEO of Watershed Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Centre agrees the current approach isn't working.

Full Article

Time for Australia to abandon "failed war on drugs"

The Conversation | 2nd April 2012

Australia must abandon its failed war on drugs and reopen the debate over legalising and regulating their use, according to a report to be released tomorrow.

The report, emotively titled “The prohibition of illicit drugs is killing and criminalising our children and we are letting it happen”, is the work of non-profit body Australia21 and based on a roundtable attended by former premiers and health ministers, and a former police commissioner, among other high-profile figures.

It has the support of new Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, who wrote: “An issue that worried me while I was in NSW politics was the police hitting railway stations with sniffer dogs. It was marijuana that was the focus. I did not think it was the best use of police time. People were breaking no other laws. This was victimless crime and this was seen as a new way to engage police resources. I wanted them to do things like make public transport safe and clean up Cabramatta.”

 Full Article

Ban on fake pot fails to drag drug off shelf

WA Today | 1st April 2012

BAN on synthetic cannabis has failed to stop its sale and may have caused stronger forms of the party drug to hit the market.

Sold as Kronic, Northern Lights, Spice and Amsterdam High, the herbal-chemical blend was in effect outlawed in July when eight cannabis-like chemicals were banned by Australia's federal medicines regulator.

But it is still being sold widely in Melbourne in ''legal high'' stores, tobacconists and sex shops, as suppliers have got around the law by reformulating brands with chemicals that have a similar effect but are not on the banned list.

Full Article
 

Back to the top

March

back to the top

Call for mandatory alcohol education

ABC News | 30th March 2012

Alcohol and drug education would become mandatory in West Australian schools under a strategy launched in Perth today.

The Injury Control Council says the program aims to combat rising violence, alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour involving teenagers.

The plan calls for greater access to public transport after midnight and advocates stricter controls on alcohol outlets.

The council's Deborah Costello says these include better education from a young age about the dangers of alcohol.

"What we want is comprehensive school and drug and education programs," she said.

Full Article

'Close the Gap': indigenous urged to quit smoking

ABC News | 28th March 2012

When a 41-year-old Aboriginal man's heart age in relation to his actual age was calculated at 69, the nurse attributed it directly to his unhealthy lifestyle and chronic smoking addiction.

This was a common result at the heart calculator stand at Pangula Mannamurna in Mount Gambier which hosted a number of services working together to achieve better health and life expectation equality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol problems and diseases directly related to tobacco use topple that of non-indigenous peoples in Australia which prompted the 'Close the Gap' campaign in 2006.

Full Article

WA government ads link alcohol to cancer

9 News | 27th March 2012

A new government health campaign is warning West Australians that alcohol is in the same cancer-causing category as tobacco and asbestos.

The "Alcohol. Think Again" campaign highlights that each year in Australia an estimated 5070 cases of cancer, or five per cent of all cancers, are attributable to alcohol use.

Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said people might be shocked to learn how dangerous alcohol consumption could be.

"There is no safe level of alcohol consumption in regard to cancer risk," she said.

Full Article

Drinking shock tactics

The West Australian | 27th March 2012

 new television campaign will warn drinkers that alcohol is in the same cancer-causing league as asbestos and smoking.

WA experts are targeting young and middle-aged drinkers with the message that having more than two standard drinks at a time increases their risk of cancer.

Advertisements featuring Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver will warn that alcohol is a grade-one carcinogen.

Latest estimates link alcohol consumption to more than 5000 new cases of cancer a year in Australia, including breast, liver, bowel and throat cancers.

Full Article

'Ice psychosis': how ice can cause a 'fight or flight situation'

The Sydney Morning Herald | 27th March 2012

'Ice' - a cheap and potent methamphetamine easily available on Sydney's streets - is not the most popular drug of choice for criminals but it certainly adds a violent element that can, as seen on Sunday, cause fatal consequences.

Consultant psychologist Dr Glenys Dore, Clinical Director of Northern Sydney Drug and Alcohol Service said the drug is a major problem for health officials and police when users suffer an 'ice psychosis.'

An 'ice psychosis' is when users have persecutory or paranoia delusions often accompanied by auditory and visual hallucinations, she said.

"Those who are committing crimes and who are extremely violent on methamphetamine represent a very small group of those using methamphetamine. Of those who become psychotic it's only for two or three hours but if they continue to be psychotic, only about 10 per cent are going to be very violent," she said

Full Article

Experts say parental disapproval is good for child sobriety

ABC News | 26th March 2012

I struck a surprising rapport with Tonya McCusker, the wife of the WA Governor recently.

We're on a common mission: to survive Year 12.

I'd phoned her up for an interview about teenage binge drinking.

As she's the co-founder of a centre dedicated to tackling the problem, I was expecting a full briefing on hospital admissions and alcohol-related fatalities.

Instead, Mrs McCusker and I, both parents of 16-year-olds, commiserated over the challenges of navigating our teens through the crucial final year at school in today's booze-drenched society.

Full Article

How others are tackling problem drinking

BBC News | 23rd March 2012

Ministers are proposing a minimum price for alcohol and banning the sale of multi-buy discounts.

They believe it will help reduce the burden on society from excessive drinking. Last year alone there were nearly 1m alcohol-related violent crimes and 1.2m hospital admissions.

But England is not the only country to try to tackle this problem. What have other nations been up to?

Full Article

Anti-binge drinking ad under fire

The Sydney Morning Herald | 19th March 2012

A new police advertising campaign that targets binge drinking has been attacked as unrealistic and ineffective by lobby groups for Canberra's nightclubs, pub, and clubs.

The ad shows drunk youths in galah costumes acting obnoxiously, throwing up and getting into fights.

The video leaves viewers with the message ''too many drinks, and you're a galah''.

It was issued just before Skyfire, and coincided with a fall in the number of teenagers taken into protective custody by police for under-age drinking at the event

Full Article

Watchdog to keep booze ads away from children

The Sydney Morning Herald | 17th March 2012

ALCOHOL is fast becoming the No. 1 threat facing Australian children and there is no adequate system to stop them being exposed to alcohol advertising, Australia's foremost child health expert, Fiona Stanley, says.

The former Australian of the Year will chair a new alcohol advertising review body, which health experts say is needed because the industry-based code is failing to protect children.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board will assess complaints from the public about alcohol advertising, and will look at areas not covered by the current code such as sponsorship or advertisement placement.

Alcohol kids' worst enemy

The Sydney Morning Herald | 17th March 2012

ALCOHOL is fast becoming the No. 1 threat facing Australian children and there is no adequate system in place to stop them being exposed to alcohol advertising, Australia's foremost child health expert, Fiona Stanley, says.

The former Australian of the Year will chair a new alternative alcohol advertising review body, which health experts say is needed because the industry-based code is failing to protect children.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board will assess complaints from members of the public about alcohol advertising, and will look at areas not covered by the current code, such as sponsorship or advertisement placement.

Full Article

FARE welcomes new alcohol advertising watch dog

FARE | 16th March 2012

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has applauded today’s launch of the Alcohol Advertising Review Board, a new independent body established to police alcohol advertising in Australia.

Created in response to a an industry-based advertising code that has failed to control the alcohol industry’s aggressive marketing and advertising practices, the Board is the initiative of the McCusker Centre on Action for Alcohol and Youth and Cancer Council Western Australia, and is supported by major health groups across Australia.

To be chaired by former Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, the Alcohol Advertising Review Board will consider and adjudicate complaints about alcohol advertising from members of the public.

FARE Chief Executive, Michael Thorn, says the current industry-based, voluntary Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC), has proven time and again incapable of regulating the industry’s runaway marketing and advertising practices.

Full Article

Richard Branson and Ian Blair debate drug decriminalisation

The Guardian | 16th March 2012

It is more than 40 years since the war on drugs was declared. Ian Blair, former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and Richard Branson, entrepreneur and member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy meet – over a glass of wine – to discuss whether it's time to decriminalise. Emine Saner listens in.

Ian Blair: This is a very nuanced argument. I am in favour of experimentation to see if we can get treatment higher up the agenda of governments in dealing with drugs. Many drug addiction problems could be solved by treatment. But I fear the idea of a fully legalised world around drugs because it is an absolutely untested proposition, and the only evidence we have is small experiments in small countries. The idea that somewhere like the UK or the US goes into an experiment with unforeseeable consequences strikes me as horrific.

Richard Branson: I went into the Drugs Commission with a fairly open mind. We examined the war on drugs over the last 40 years and came to the conclusion it has failed. We then looked at countries that are taking a different approach on the war on drugs. In Portugal they said we're not going to legalise, but we're going to decriminalise all drugs – no one is going to go to prison for possession of drugs. We will move drugs from the home office to the health department. The government will use the money that would otherwise have been spent on putting people in prison to help them – which is about three-quarters cheaper. Portugal has seen a big reduction in heroin use, and in drug-related break-ins, and you can understand logically why.

Full Article

Alcohol Advertising Review Board launched by Fiona Stanley to stop 'free run' of booze ads

The Daily Telegraph | 16th March 2012

FORMER Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley and other leading health campaigners are today launching a new national body to review alcohol advertising in Australia.

The new Alcohol Advertising Review Board hopes to counter what it claims is out-of-control advertising and marketing of alcohol, which is seeing increasing levels of alcohol-related harm.

It will consider and adjudicate complaints from the community about alcohol advertising, providing "an independent alternative to Australia’s current inadequate and ineffective advertising self-regulation system".

Full Article

New board to 'name and shame' alcohol ads  

The Australian | 16th March 2012

A NEW national health body has been established to "name and shame" irresponsible alcohol advertising.

Chaired by former Australian of the Year and children's health advocate Fiona Stanley, the independent Alcohol Advertising Review Board was launched in Perth today, promising to hold advertisers to account for what it says is a growing problem of alcohol abuse across the nation.

The independent body is made up of health professionals and related groups, and supported by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth (MCAAY) and Cancer Council Western Australia.

MCAAY director Mike Daube said it would counter the industry-based Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code, which he claimed wasn't doing enough to curb excessive drinking and exposure to children.

Full Article

Health groups tackle 'tsunami' of booze ads

ABC News | 16th March 2012

A coalition of experts say Australia's alcohol advertising code has failed to rein in the industry, which they say is out of control.

Health groups have joined forces to form a new review board to investigate and publicise complaints about alcohol advertising.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board, to be chaired by the former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley, is planning to name and shame companies that advertise irresponsibly.

Professor Mike Daube from the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth says the liquor industry's own system of self-regulation is failing dismally.

Full Article

Acid, pot, Es and booze: Youth risking health with drug cocktails

Brisbane Times | 14th March 2012

Partygoers have again been warned of the dangers of combining multiple drugs and alcohol after a recent spate of drug overdoses involving young people in Brisbane.

In the latest incident, two teenagers and a man in his late 20s were hospitalised after taking a cocktail of illicit drugs at a party in an inner-Brisbane suburb early Sunday.

They were among a group of around 10 attending a party in Blamey Street, Kelvin Grove who reportedly suffering physical reactions and hallucinations after consuming a combination of drugs including nitrous oxide, acid, ecstasy, marijuana and alcohol.

Three were taken to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, one of them in a critical condition after reportedly falling unconscious.

Full Article

Cannabis, arrests linked

The Age | 13th March 2012

STUDY of Australians detained by police has found that 46 per cent of them tested positive for cannabis.

But the study, by the Australian Institute of Criminology, also found overall drug use among alleged offenders had fallen to 66 per cent, down from 77 per cent recorded in a similar survey in 2004.

Tests found those positive to cannabis had fallen from 61 per cent a decade previously while there was a rise in the proportion of those drinking alcohol, from 38 to 47 per cent.

Full Article 

Drug used down among police detainees

The Australian | 12th March 2012

ALMOST half the people arrested around Australia in 2009 and 2010 had drunk alcohol within 48 hours before being picked up by police, and almost the same number had used cannabis.   

Research by the Australian Institute of Criminology found 46 per cent of detainees tested positive for cannabis, though the rate had dropped sharply from 61 per cent in 1999.

In the two-year survey, released on Monday, researchers interviewed 7575 people after their arrest and took urine samples from three-quarters of them.

Urine tests found two in three had at least one type of drug in their system, a 14 per cent drop from 2004.

About one in six tested positive for amphetamines, and one in eight had taken heroin

Full Article

Search for genetic clues to cruel lottery of drink-induced cirrhosis

The Sydney Morning Herald | 12th March 2012

SCIENTISTS in Sydney will investigate why some heavy drinkers are more likely than others to suffer the potentially fatal long-term effects of alcohol. It will be a world-first study, as concern increases about the failure of public health campaigns to curb drinking rates.

Up to 5000 people with alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver will be tested to try to identify genetic triggers of the disease. The $2.5 million international study is the largest undertaken into the deadly condition.

A professor of addiction medicine at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Paul Haber, said funding for cirrhosis research was ''relatively neglected''. It is hoped the study will also show why some people develop the disease despite relatively moderate alcohol consumption, Professor Haber said.

Full Article

High rate of cannabis use among offenders

The Age | 12th March 2012

NEARLY half the people detained by police tested positive for cannabis, an Australian Institute of Criminology survey has found.

The survey found that 46 per cent had smoked cannabis, only slightly fewer than the 47 per cent found to have drunk alcohol in the preceding 48 hours.

However, it also found that overall drug use among alleged offenders arrested by police had fallen to 66 per cent, down from 77 per cent recorded in a similar survey in 2004.

The proportion who had smoked cannabis had fallen from 61 per cent a decade previously, while there had been a rise in the proportion of those drinking alcohol, up from 38 per cent.

Full Article

Grasp of safe alcohol limits proves to be a long shot

The Sydney Morning Herlad | 06th March 2012

ONLY FIVE per cent of Australians are able to identify safe drinking levels and young people particularly think they can drink far more than is good for them, a national survey shows.

The Centre for Alcohol Policy Research has found that apart from the 95 per cent of people unable to say what are safe drinking levels, up to 50 per cent could not even provide an estimate of hazard-free alcohol intake.

The centre's study, based on analysis of results from surveys undertaken over the past five years, reflect a failure to promote safe drinking guidelines but may also stem from confusion between the guidelines and drink-driving limits, the survey researcher, Michael Livingston, said.

Full Article

Australians don't know what's safe level of alcohol consumption  

The Telegraph | 06th March 2012

FEW Australians know what a safe level of alcohol consumption is, research shows.

A Centre for Alcohol Policy Research report, released today, found 95 per cent of people surveyed were unable to correctly identify the Australian guidelines for safe drinking levels.

Between 30 and 50 per cent were unable to even provide an estimate.

Researcher Michael Livingston, from the centre, said the misconceptions were particularly pronounced among young people, men and heavy drinkers.

"Young people are significantly overestimating the number of standard drinks to consume per occasion to reduce the risk of short-term harms, with young men aged 14-19 years estimating 8.8 drinks while their female counterparts estimated 6.5 drinks," Mr Livingston said. 

Full Article

Smoking, drinking teens unhappiest  

The Courier Mail | 05th March 2012

TEENAGERS who smoke, drink alcohol and eat junk food are significantly more likely to be unhappy than their clean- living counterparts, a study has found.

About 5,000 children were questioned on their appearance, family, friends, school and life as a whole, and had their happiness levels rated.

Researchers discovered that those who never drank alcohol were between four and six times more likely to have higher levels of happiness than those who did, while those who shunned cigarettes were about five times more likely to have high happiness scores than young smokers.

The authors of the study, based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University, used data from Understanding Society, a long-term study of 40,000 UK households, to analyse the home life and health-related behaviour of about 5,000 ten to 15-year-olds.

Full Article

Three years on - Alcohol Guidelines invisible and unknown

Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)  - 03rd March 2012

Australia's Alcohol Guidelines turn today but there's little reason to celebrate. New research by the Centre for Alcohok Policy Research (CAPR) shows that 95 per cent of people unable to correctly identify safe drinking levels.

The research has been released ahead of a meeting of health experts in Melbourne today which will explore the role of the National Health and Medical Research Council's (NHMRC): Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol.

The study, Perception of the low-risk drinking levels among Australians during a period of chnage in the official drinking guidelines, found fewer than five per cent of people were able to correctly identify safe drinking levels to avoid short and long-term harms, and between 30 and 50 per cent of respondents couldn't even provide estimates.

Full Article

Alarm at rise in young drunks

The West Australiam | 03rd March 2012

Health experts are alarmed by school and university students routinely going on alcohol blinders, as new figures show more than 1000 children were treated at Perth hospital emergency departments last year for alcohol or drug use.

Researchers and doctors say teenagers are drinking more and at younger ages, putting them on a path of regular binge drinking by the time they start work or university.

They were also exposed to more blatant marketing such as Jim Beam on Campus, a Facebook-based campaign which invited students to nominate their university to win prizes such as bar credit.

Full Article

Call to lift tax on cider to rein in alcohol abuse

Sydney Morning Herlad | 03rd March 2012

ALCOHOL producers are targeting young drinkers with sweet ciders that attract a fraction of the tax levied on notorious alcopops, health campaigners say.

The legal loophole, which sees ciders taxed in the same way as wines, has underpinned an explosion in the varieties of fruit-based drinks available, the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Michael Thorn, said.

Companies were ''definitely looking to replace spirit-based [pre-mixed drinks]'' after the introduction of a tax in 2008 led to a sharp fall in their sales, Mr Thorn said, and had created ''very deliberate campaigns'' aimed at promoting ciders to youths

Full Article

How does cannabis affect working memory?

EurekAlert | 02th March 2012

A deterioration of working memory is observed in people who consume drugs containing cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis leaves and buds. A team led by Giovanni Marsicano (Inserm Research Unit 862) in collaboration with a team led by Xia Zhang, has recently identified the mechanism by which these substances affect working memory. These researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the adverse effect of cannabinoids on working memory is exerted via receptors located in the glial cells (brain cells present in large numbers and scarcely studied). This effect is associated with a decrease in neural connections in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that coordinates working memory processes. These results were published in Cell on 2 March 2012.

Working memory is used perform common cognitive operations (thinking, reading, writing, calculating, etc.) on information stored temporarily (for periods ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes). This allows for the integration audio, visual and spatial information. One of the major effects of intoxication with cannabinoids is the alteration of working memory, as observed in both humans and animals. Cannabis disturbs this function, thus preventing the consumer from performing common daily tasks. Cannabinoid receptors are expressed in the glial cells of the hippocampus, a cerebral structure essential for memory modulation. The cellular mechanisms responsible for the adverse effects of cannabis on this memorization process were previously unknown.

Full Article

Back to the top

February

Back to the top

Why does drinking alcohol cause dehydration?

ABC Science | 28th February 2012

We humans have been making and drinking alcohol for thousands of years.

It's a strange liquid. We can use it as a fuel or germ-killer, use it to preserve human heads or other body parts in jars for years on end, or to strip oil stains from the garage floor.

And yet, in small quantities we use alcohol as a social lubricant.

But over time, too much alcohol can set off diabetes and malnutrition, and diseases of the central nervous system and the liver.

A short-term side-effect is excessive urination. In Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, the porter says that alcohol promotes "nose-painting, sleep and urine".

But even today we still don't fully understand how alcohol causes this excessive urination.

Full Article

First and only study on harmful effects of infants prenatally exposed to ecstasy

EurekAlert | 28th February 2012

International Case Western Reserve-led study published in Neurotoxicology and Teratology

A study led by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in collaboration with the University of East London UK, and Swansea University UK, is the first to show the effects of the drug ecstasy on fetal and infant development.

Ecstasy is a stimulant and hallucinogen, and is one of the most widely used illegal drugs among young people, with a range of damaging effects. It is known scientifically as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA. This international prospective study, published in the Feb. 28 issue of Neurotoxicology and Teratology, shows that use of ecstasy among pregnant women affects the chemical signaling that determines a baby's gender, and, contributes to developmental delays among infants.

Full Article

Drug Action Week 2012 Event Registrations are rolling In

ADCA Media Release | 27th February 2012

The national Drug Action Week (DAW) 2012 is shaping up to be another highly successful seven days of awareness raising and celebratory activities on the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector calendar.

The national launch has been locked in for Wednesday, 13 June 2012, at Parliament House in Canberra, and some 58 organisations have already registered events to coincide with DAW 2012 from Sunday, 17 June through to Saturday, 23 June.

“This early response is very encouraging, and follows on from the record 800 registrations recorded for DAW 2011,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), Mr David Templeman said.

Full Article 

Smoke-free outdoor laws herald better community health

The Conversation | 22nd February 2012

The NSW government will introduce a smoke-free outdoors law this year, making it the sixth state or territory to have some variation of this kind of legislation. The announcement shows that community health and common sense can override the vested interests and powerful lobbying of Big Tobacco.

While New South Wales has been late in introducing these laws compared with other states, the legislation will be one of the most comprehensive.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the legislation – covering smoke-free children’s playgrounds, sporting fields when sports are being played, and covered bus shelters and taxi ranks – will be introduced in the spring session of parliament. The bans for smoking in commercial outdoor dining areas will come into effect in 2015.

Full Article

Alcohol in movies linked to child boozing

Channel 10 Breakfast Show | 21st February 2012

Stars who knock back whisky, wine or beer in a movie are an invisible but potent force in prompting youngsters to experiment with alcohol ...

Major exposure to scenes of alcohol consumption in movies is a bigger risk for teen drinking than having parents who drink or if booze is easily available at home, the study says, which was published on Tuesday.

Unprecedented in its scope, the probe entailed a confidential telephone survey of more than 6,500 randomly-selected Americans aged 10 to 14 years, who were then interviewed three more times over the next two years.

The youngsters were surveyed on what big movies they had seen, whether they drank alcohol or owned merchandise with a liquor brand on it, and were also asked questions about their personality, school and home life.

Full Article

Alcohol in movies linked to teen drinking

The Australian | 21st February 2012

Major exposure to scenes of alcohol consumption in movies is a bigger risk for teen drinking than having parents who drink or if booze is easily available at home, the study published today said.

Unprecedented in its scope, the probe entailed a confidential telephone survey of more than 6500 randomly selected Americans aged 10 to 14 years, who were then interviewed three more times over the next two years.

The youngsters were surveyed on what big movies they had seen, whether they drank alcohol or owned merchandise with a liquor brand on it, and were also asked questions about their personality, school and home life.

The 50-movie list used in the interview was drawn randomly from 500 current or recent box-office hits plus another 32 films that had grossed at least $US15 million when the first survey was carried out.

Full Article

NSW delayed outdoor smoking ban criticised

The Sydney Morning Herald | 21st February 2012

A NSW ban on smoking in outdoor eating areas is being hailed as an historic step, but supporters want to know why it will be delayed until 2015.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Tuesday announced a suite of bans, including new legislation which would immediately stop smoking in playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, transport stops and entrances to public buildings.

But the 2015 ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas attracted the most attention.

"People don't like putting food in their mouths with smoke in the air, and this is something we are acknowledging," Jillian Skinner said.

Full Article

Don't risk your bub with booze

Herald Sun | 16th February 2012

AUSSIE women have been criticised as incredibly ignorant about the danger of drinking alcohol during pregnancy.  

Liberal MP for Murray Sharman Stone said yesterday it was a tragedy many women were still not fully aware of the dangers of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, even though women now drank as "hard and long as the boys".

"Every survey conducted in Australia of women's knowledge about alcohol consumption during pregnancy shows a shocking majority have not been informed," Dr Stone said.

The National Health and Medical Research Council said there was no safe level of drinking during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Full Article

Smoking linked to generations of infertility

The West | 15th February 2012

Being exposed to cigarette smoke as a baby or foetus could reduce a female's fertility, new Australian research has found.

The three-year study examined the effect that three chemicals found in cigarettes had on ovarian development and egg fertilisation.

It found females who were exposed to the toxins through cigarette smoke during the early stages of life could experience a reduction in the quality and number of their eggs, Professor Eileen McLaughlin from the University of Newcastle said.

Full Article

Greens call for federal laws to target petrol sniffing

ABC News | 15th February 2012

Petrol sniffing is back on the agenda in remote Australian outposts and in Canberra, with the Greens calling for a ban on regular fuel.

When they are high, petrol sniffers have been described as zombies, with depressant effects worse than alcohol.

Long-term sniffers can end up in wheelchairs from brain damage.

In remote Aboriginal areas the problem has been largely contained by a roll-out of non-sniffable fuel, but some roadhouses still sell the damaging standard substance.

Full Article

Educational drug website launched

9 News |14th February 2012

An educational drug website has been launched that includes details of the safest ways in which to inject drugs.

The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) has compiled the large collection of drug educational materials, which is aimed at teachers, health workers and parents.

Featured on the website are sections including "The Safer Injecting Handbook", "Take Control of Your Drinking And You May Not Need To Quit", and "What Drug Is That?".

ADF CEO John Rogerson says young people need to be given tools that promote informed decisions about drug and alcohol use.

Full Article

Push for national strategy for foetal alcohol disorder

Nursing Review Online | 14th February 2012

A parliamentary inquiry is generating calls for FASD to be recognised as a disability.

Parents, foster carers, nurses and other health workers who have experience with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders have been urged to tell their story to federal parliament.

A parliamentary committee is investigating the incidence and prevention of foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Australia.

"FASD is a hidden epidemic happening right now across Australia," committee chairman Graham Perrett told parliament this week.

"It occurs in all our communities, regardless of socioeconomic or ethnic background."

Some people with FASD had tell-tale facial features but many more sufferers carried no physical sign of their intellectual impairment which included learning difficulties, low IQ, behavioural and socialising problems, organ damage, mental health issues, poor judgment and an inability to understand consequences or the difference between right and wrong.

Full Article

Tax-free cigarettes may be stubbed out

Herald Sun | 14th February 2012

THE Federal Government could be about to stub out cheap cigarettes for jet-setting smokers.

The duty-free allowance for cigarettes and tobacco for international travellers arriving in Australia is facing the axe, Channel 7 reported last night.

The tax break is worth an estimated $270 million and the tax collected would help raise money for the fragile Budget.

The Henry Tax Review recommended the duty-free allowance be abolished in its 2010 report to Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Full Article

Grants Announced to Fight Youth Binge Drinking

Department of Health and Aging | 10th February 2012

The Gillard Government is continuing its fight against youth binge drinking armed with $10 million to fund 26 community level projects across Australia.

The projects will receive funding of up to $500,000 each in the third round of grants under the Community Level Initiative—part of the Labor Government’s National Binge Drinking Strategy to help combat risky drinking.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler today joined Federal MP for Kingston, Amanda Rishworth and youth workers at Re-Engage Youth Services in Christies Beach, South Australia, to announce the funding recipients.

“Fighting risky drinking, particularly among young people, remains a priority for the Government,” Mr Butler said.

“With around one in six young people aged 14 or older putting themselves at risk of alcohol-related injury from a single drinking occasion at least once a week, it is obvious that we must find new ways of reducing such harmful behaviour.

“Binge drinking is a community-wide problem and the solution lies in community-supported, grassroots projects, and especially those which encourage young people to take more responsibility for their own actions.

Full Article

Programs aim to curb youth binge drinking

ABC News | 10th February 2012

A community group in Adelaide's southern suburbs is getting almost $500,000 to promote responsible drinking in the Marion and Onkaparinga communities.

The federal money is being provided to Re-engage Youth Services at Christies Beach to run alcohol-free events for young people and use social media to communicate with them about good health.

Full Article

Smoking dope doubles risk of car crashes

9 News | 10th February 2012

Smoking marijuana a couple of hours before you drive almost doubles your chances of having a serious car crash, according to Canadian researchers.

The study, led by Associate Professor Mark Asbridge from Dalhousie University, is the first to review data about drivers who had been treated for serious injuries or died in car accidents.

"To our knowledge this meta-analysis is the first to examine the association between acute cannabis use and the risk of motor vehicle collisions in real life," the researchers wrote in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

Full Article

Govt to take tougher tack on alcohol abuse

ABC News | 10th February 2012

The Federal Government is proposing new measures to crack down on alcohol abuse in central Australia, with harsher penalties for grog runners one of the features of the planned laws. The Government is also looking at handing greater power to town camps and remote communities to draft their own alcohol restrictions. Hoteliers and social welfare advocates say the measures will do little to stop the damaging effects of alcohol.

Full Article

Cannabis drivers 'twice as likely to cause car crash'

BBC News | 10th February 2012

Drivers who use cannabis up to three hours before driving are twice as likely to cause a collision as those not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, says a Canadian study.

This is because cannabis impairs brain and motor functions needed for safe driving, the researchers suggest.

The study in bmj.com reviewed nine studies of 50,000 people worldwide who had been in serious or fatal crashes.

Experts support the close monitoring of serious accidents involving drugs.

The study analysis was carried out by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.

Full Article

Teaching healthy drinking habits now

Drinkwsie Advertorial | 02nd February 2012

Today’s teenagers are drinking at a younger age and at risky levels. The average Australian starts drinking alcohol at 15.5 years; and more than a quarter of our 14-19 year olds are putting themselves at risk of alcohol-related harm at least once a month.

From when your child turns 12 years old until they reach about 24 years their brain is forming all the parts needed for learning, memory, planning, emotional stability, and thinking. Alcohol can disrupt this.

Your child trusts you and relies on you for information and advice. Research shows that they believe that you should teach them about alcohol.

Full Article 

Pregnant women 'ignoring alcohol warnings'

WA Today | 02nd February 2012

Women are continuing to place their unborn children at risk by drinking while pregnant, health experts have told a federal parliamentary inquiry.

The inquiry is investigating the need for a national strategy to prevent and manage foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which occurs through exposure to alcohol in the womb.

The disorder is preventable and those affected can suffer brain injury, birth defects and lifelong learning and behavioural issues.

Submissions to the inquiry have called for urgent measures including warning labels, alcohol taxes and advertising campaigns to warn women against drinking while pregnant.

According to the National Drug Research Institute about 50 per cent of pregnant women in Australia drink alcohol.

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Energy drink abuse highest among teens

Science Network Western Australia | 17th January 2012

A RECENT study has revealed a dramatic increase in the number of calls to a poisons hotline relating to caffeine toxicity from energy drink consumption.

And according to the research published in Medical Journal of Australia, the trend is largely among teenagers.

A study, by NSW Poisons Information Centre medical director Dr Naren Gunja and coauthor Jared Brown, was conducted over a seven year period and found that callers reported 297 exposures to energy drinks, with the annual trend increasing from 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010.

Full Article

Rise in cases of caffeine toxicity

The Sydney Morning Herald | 16th January 2012

HEALTH professionals are calling for warning labels on caffeinated energy drinks following a study that found a sharp rise in the number of people who report heart problems, tremors and chest pains after drinking the beverages, particularly teenagers.

Close to 300 calls were made to NSW's poisons centre regarding adverse reactions to energy drinks between January 2004 and the end of 2010, with more than a third of people attending hospital.

Full Article

Hallucinations, heart attacks 'brought on by energy drinks'   

The Australian | 16th January 2012

CAFFEINE-LOADED energy drinks are responsible for an ever-increasing number of hospital visits and calls to poison hotlines, and are blamed for a variety of serious symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures and even heart attacks.  

A new analysis of calls to the country's biggest poisons helpline, the NSW Poisons Information Centre, since 2004 found the number of calls related to energy drinks rose from 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010, with at least 128 people requiring emergency department treatment over the seven years.

Although the most common symptoms were heart palpitations, agitation, tremor and upset stomachs, more than 20 people had signs of more serious poisoning, including hallucinations, seizures and interrupted blood flow to the heart. 

Full Article

Energy drinks industry rejects doctors' calls for greater regulation

Herald Sun | 16th January 2012

The Australian Medical Association is calling for age-restrictions on the drinks, after a worrying rise in the number of teenagers becoming ill.

But a group representing the energy drink industry has dismissed calls for greater regulation of the beverages, saying they are no more dangerous than coffee.

They say teens who were being admitted to emergency rooms after overdosing on energy drinks amounted to just "0.00001 per cent of the population".

The poisons hotline has received a four-fold increase in calls relating to the high-sugar drinks.

Experts say teenagers are being "poisoned" by the drinks and suffering hallucinations, seizures and cardiac problems.

Full Article

Energy drinks regulations go far enough already, says industry

The Shout | 16th January 2012

The Australian Beverages Council, representing the entire Australian energy drink industry, has today rejected calls from Doctors for greater regulations of energy drinks.

The Australian Medical Association is calling for age restrictions on the drinks, claiming there has been a rise in the number of teenagers becoming ill from over-consumption.

But Australian Beverages Council CEO Geoff Parker, said energy drinks in Australia are already the most heavily regulated of all world markets.

"Personal responsibility needs to be considered and trying to regulate against a lack of common sense or over-consumption of a perfectly safe product by 0.00001% of the population isn't a position supported by the industry," he said.

Full Article 

Australia experts call for energy drink warnings

AFP | 16th January 2012

SYDNEY (AFP) - Researchers in Australia called for health warnings on caffeine-loaded energy drinks following a spike in the number of people reporting medical problems after drinking them.

Health professionals from the University of Sydney's Medical School and the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre said reports of adverse reactions to drinks like Red Bull and V jumped from just 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010.

Full Article

Use of ‘Cancer Kangaroo’ in Cigarette Packing Not Amusing, Australia Says

International News | 16th January 2012

The Australia government has decried the use of its icon, the kangaroo, in cigarette packs being sold in Europe. Also written in the cigarette boxes is the slogan "An Australian Favourite."

Australia's Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has reportedly told the British American Tobacco to "get your hands off our icons."

An anti-smoking advocate has dubbed the image the "cancer kangaroo".

The discovery of the controversial cigarette design comes as British American Tobacco prepares to fight the Australian Government in the High Court over a proposal to enforce plain cigarette packaging 

Full Article

Spray hope for pot addicts

Blacktown Sun | 9th January 2012

SMOKERS have nicotine patches and heroin addicts have methadone but cannabis users have little choice except to go cold turkey if they want to kick the habit.

But researchers at the University of New South Wales hope a cannabis-based mouth spray prescribed to multiple sclerosis sufferers and not available in Australia could be used to help people quit marijuana.

There are no products specifically aimed at easing people off cannabis, the only option being a cocktail of prescribed drugs used to counteract withdrawal symptoms.

Full Article 

Trial of cannabis withdrawal drug begins 

9 News | 9th January 2012

Australian researchers have begun what they say is a world-first study into a drug to manage withdrawal from cannabis.

Trials are underway in Sydney and Newcastle of the drug Sativex, a botanical extract of cannabis administered through a mouth spray.

The Director of the Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre Professor Jan Copeland said there is currently no targeted drug available for regular cannabis users.

"If we can provide evidence that Sativex is useful in this very controlled condition we will then be really ready to test it in community-based studies," Professor Copeland said 

Full Article

The land of surfing, barbies... and dope. Study shows more Australians take marijuana than any other nationality

Daily Mail UK | 9th January 2012

It's know for its spectacular wildlife, rugged scenery and surfing culture.

But a new study shows why Australians may have developed another national trait - a laid-back, casual lifestyle with plenty of time on the beach and an informal approach to almost anything.

For researchers from the universities of Queensland and New South Wales have found that the contient has the highest per capita consumption of marijuana in the world.

Full Article

Nine drinks at home kick off night out

Perth NOW | 7th January 2012

West Australians are drinking heavily before they leave home for a night out.

A report from the Drug and Alcohol Office reveals some revellers drink more than nine standard drinks before going to a licensed venue.

Experts say the ritual, known as "pre-loading", is fuelled by wholesale liquor outlets selling cheap booze and is a way to combat high drinks prices charged by pubs and clubs.

The report has reignited calls by the Australian Medical Association for the Federal Government to set a mandatory minimum price on the sale of alcohol.

The figures on pre-loading were compiled as part of the 2011 Night Venues and Entertainment Events Project by the DAO, which surveyed 405 people aged 14-34 in WA. 

Full Article

Party drugs popular with online shoppers

Sunday Mail (SA) | 7th January 2012

DANGEROUS new party drugs that leave users hallucinating and paranoid can be bought online.

New concoctions of illicit substances are sweeping the web, easily sold through eBay-style auction sites under code names or on "hidden" black-market websites where the identity and location of the buyer is obscured and the underground sales can't be tracked.

Police say new drugs are continually emerging, as their makers try to stay one step ahead of the law by formulating synthetic alternatives that are yet to be black-listed, and turning to the internet as their marketplace.

Full Article

Australia has highest users of cannabis in the world

The Telegraph | 6th January 2012

Australia has the highest rate of cannabis users in the world, with research revealing overall illicit drug use is worse than 50 years ago

About 200 million people (estimated between 149 million and 271 million) aged between 15 and 64 use illegal drugs worldwide according to UN figures published in medical journal The Lancet.

Cannabis is the most widely used drug worldwide, with up to 15 per cent of pot smokers from the Oceania region of Australia and New Zealand, followed by North America and western Europe.

Three papers in The Lancet this week discussed global use and health effects of drugs including cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and opioids like heroin and methadone. 

Full Article

Healthy image up in smoke as nation lives the high life

The Sydney Morning Herald | 6th January 2012

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand have a proud history of co-operation, but now it seems the nations have achieved a more dubious honour: the world's biggest pot-heads.

Together the countries have higher levels of marijuana and amphetamine use than any other region in the world, according to the findings from a series of papers to be published today in the medical journal The Lancet examining global drug use and law enforcement.

In 2009 in Oceania, for which only data from Australia and New Zealand was available, 10 to 15 per cent of people had used marijuana in the past year, compared to 1.2 to 2.5 per cent in Asia, the region with the lowest use. Between 2 and 2.8 per cent used amphetamines such as speed, compared with 0.2 to 1.4 per cent in Asia.

Full Article

Odyssey House names alcohol as top drug for fifth year running 

5th January 2012

ALCOHOL has once again outstripped illicit drugs like heroin or amphetamines as the leading reason for admissions to rehabilitation service Odyssey House.

The Macarthur-based service showed in its 2011 annual report one in three people cited alcohol as their primary addiction. It is the fifth consecutive year alcohol has topped illicit drugs.  

Full Article

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