The Rudd Government throws the switch to illicit drugs

After a little over a year of running a public campaign around binge drinking, and with the ‘Alco Pops’ legislation still bogged down in the Senate, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has announced the upcoming illicits campaign:



Hard-hitting ads targeting ice, ecstasy and marijuana will be rolled out from today, as part of an $18 million national campaign.

The ads confront young people with the dangers posed by these harmful drugs, and will include print, television, cinema, outdoor advertising and internet ads.

The risks associated with these drugs include:

• Ice users are at risk of drug-induced psychosis which may lead to aggressive and violent behaviour. They also suffer physical problems including damaged teeth, gums and skin lesions, and are at greater risk of stroke, panic attacks, anxiety, and severe depression.

• Ecstasy users are at risk of chronic sleep problems, cracked teeth through grinding, high blood pressure, dehydration, anxiety, nervousness, hallucinations, severe depression, thermal meltdown and death from heart failure.

• Marijuana users are at risk of psychosis (particularly the earlier marijuana use is initiated), increased risk of depression, risky sexual behaviours and chronic respiratory conditions.

The rates of drug use in society are still too high. In 2007, of Australians aged over 14 years, 38.1 per cent had used an illicit drug and one in three had used marijuana. Of Australians aged 20-29 years, 23.9 per cent reported using ecstasy and 16 per cent had used methamphetamines such as ice at least once in their lifetime.

This campaign particularly targets young methamphetamine users by portraying in stark and confronting terms the real harms and risks associated with drugs like ice and ecstasy.

The ads use slightly revised versions of earlier ads, in order to reinforce the message that these drugs are dangerous.

The television commercial Don’t Let Ice Destroy You, was produced under the guidance of expert clinicians, and law enforcement officers were also consulted.

The campaign also directs drug users to important points of support, counselling and treatment services that are available in communities throughout the country.

This campaign is one part of more than $800 million the Government is investing over five years in tackling the scourge of drug abuse.

Further information about the Government’s National Drugs Campaign is available from or by calling the free national hotline 1800 250 015

Comprehensive strategies can be worthy, but am I alone in worrying whether a broad, mainstream campaign is the best way to target illicit drug users?

5 thoughts on “The Rudd Government throws the switch to illicit drugs

  1. Terry Wright

    Isn’t this just Howard’s “Tough on Drugs” mark II?

    I fail to see why the same old failed strategies are rolled out once again costing us $18 million dollars. Scare tactics like these are pointless when everyone knows they are based on worst case scenarios and not the norm.

    Even more puzzling is why they are targeting ecstasy and cannabis when they are 2 of the least harmful illicit drugs in Australia.

    There’s going to be plenty of “ho-hum” reactions once again from the target audience as they are exposed to just more unrealistic and highly unlikely outcomes. Isn’t it time for a mature approach to drug policy instead of these dumbed down, politically driven campaigns. [sigh] So much for a modern, advanced society utilising science and common sense to better ourselves.

  2. Monica Barratt

    The only people who listen to these messages are kids who’ve never been exposed to anyone who uses drugs and the parents/older voters who the govt want show they are ‘doing something’. Drug users have long ago lost any faith in government messages (there’s a swag of research to back this up).

    If only they could spend that money more wisely. It is frustrating to say the least…

  3. Ed

    As a young person, I am surrounded by people using marijuana and ecstasy, i’ve even used them myself. I know that these drugs have harmful potential and I’ve witnessed and experience the ill effects of taking them. The issue of drug use cannot be tackled in the ways the government is employing. Among young people there is a widespread anti-authoritarian mentality. If the government pushes one way, the youth will only push back.

    The biggest danger when it comes to drugs and youth is that kids don’t know what they’re buying and dealers rarely have much idea what is in the product that they are selling. This is undoubtedly the single largest danger when it comes to drug use

    Not to sound like a leftist hippie but if the government legalised ecstasy and marijuana then they could regulate it and reduce the risk to those consuming it.

    Quality control could be employed – this would significantly reduce the dangers involved in drug consumption. And with a safer alternative available, consumers would opt for that rather than illegal alternatives. The illegal drug trade would resultantly dry up.

    Instead of spending millions on anti drug campaigns they could tax the products. Since the products are already being sold for prices way above what they cost to produce, tax collected would bring in massive amounts of revenue which could be used to discourage use, similar to how the government is dealing with Smoking.

    Most of my peers are more willing to smoke a joint than they are to smoke a regular cigarette.

  4. 40 yr old W F Pot smoker

    It will be yet another waste of money and one of the few things I will disagree with our current government about. I agree with what the young man Ed has said and also say If you want something to flourish, make sure you ban it, this is why prohibition doesn’t work, hasn’t worked and will never work.

    My own Son who is 20 smokes pot himself from time to time but though has tried a few other drugs he now stays away from them due to the fact we have discussed the ramifications of addictions and the effect those other drugs will have on his health, his wallet and his social life. I still smoke pot and will do so I expect until I die (though I shall be changing the way I consume it) as it helps me a great deal when I feel depressed and with my constant pain and no amount of advertising, fines or anything else will change my mind nor my attitude.

    I am also well armed with all the pros and cons I have been able to study over many years on cannabis. Quite frankly I have had many more problems and side effects with the drugs that have been legally supplied by my doctor than I have ever had with cannabis.

    I don’t use any other illegal drug as it does not interest me but in my youth I did experiment like most teenagers through out history have done. If you make things legal most people are never interested anyway as they the biggest buzz from doing something they shouldn’t.

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