`Know the score' is new drugs message

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The Independent Online
Teenagers are to be warned of the dangers of "party" drugs - ecstasy, speed and LSD - in advertisements in magazines and on radio, the Health Education Authority announced yesterday.

The advertisements urge them to "know the score" by finding out more about drugs and the harm they can do.

Fifteen messages in teenage magazines such as Select, More and Match will run from next week alongside six radio advertisements aimed at clubbers and older teenagers.

HEA director David Arnold said: "Young people often grow up in a pro- drug culture that promotes the highs of drug use without considering its effects.

"Our messages acknowledge that, for example `the effects of ecstasy on your brain can make you feel good' but we emphasise that it can also lead to depression, anxiety, panic and permanent brain damage."

The advertisements, the second stage of a three-year anti-drugs campaign commissioned by the Department of Health, are aimed at encouraging users to think again and give teenagers who do not take drugs solid reasons to say `no'. The campaign also promotes the National Drugs helpline number, 0800 776600, which has so far taken 120,000 calls.

A separate campaign aimed at educating parents, who often feel "threatened by their own lack of knowledge" shows what the drugs look like, how much they cost and what they do.

"We hope the campaign will stimulate dialogue between parents and young people and the information will allow the subject to be discussed on an equal footing," Mr Arnold said.

t Young people prefer to find out about sex from magazines rather than hear about it from parents or teachers and would be happy to see more sex in advertising, according to two surveys published today.

More than three-quarters of girls and almost two-thirds of boys would rather read about sex than learn from adults, according to research by the Roehampton Institute in London. The Children's Literature Centre found teenage magazines, which have been at the centre of a political storm over explicit sex advice, are also an important source of information on drugs, sexual abuse, bullying and sexually transmitted diseases.

The centre's director, Kim Reynolds, said: "Recent discussions in Parliament and the media have focused on the explicit sexual advice contained in girls' magazines, at the expense of the wide range of other important information provided."

In a separate survey commissioned by Grey, the advertising agency behind the risque pounds 5m campaign for Lee jeans, two-thirds of young people thought too much fuss was made about sex in advertising and would be happy to see more. The NOP poll of people aged 15 to 24 found only 2 per cent disapproved.

The surveys come after a Private Member's Bill, sponsored by the Tory MP Peter Luff, received its first reading in the Commons. His Periodicals (Protection of Children) Bill would require magazines to print the recommended minimum readership age on the cover.