New drugs campaign emphasises health risks


Flemish health minister launches a new campaign aimed at young people about the urban myths surrounding cannabis

Vandeurzen’s new campaign focuses on cannabis

Flemish health minister Jo Vandeurzen has launched a new government campaign to warn young people about the health risks of cannabis, or marijuana. The campaign targets a relatively small percentage of young people, since government figures show that only 18% of those aged 12 to 18 have experimented with cannabis while 2.5% are classified as regular users.

But cannabis still remains the most popular recreational drug taken by young people, and Vandeurzen is convinced that the government needs to act. “The figures have remained stable since 2005, so it is necessary to inject new life into the prevention campaign,” he said.  

The campaign uses posters and an interactive website to challenge some “urban myths” about the health risks and to demonstrate to young people that cannabis is “not harmless and that it is not normal among their contemporaries”.

The website includes amusing quotes to make young people think about the stories they hear. It quotes thinkers such as Charles Spurgeon who said: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”.

The website also has some “hard facts about soft drugs” as well as an online questionnaire with statements like “cannabis is found in one in 10 trouser pockets” (false). There are also links to organisations that can offer help and advice.