Of all the drugs in all the world, illegal ones are by far the most ‘cool’.
Sadly this doesn’t amount to the level of street cred films and American TV shows give it, since generally drug users which every day people come into contact are frowned upon, just as cigarette smokers are beginning to be more and more.
Today campaigners for mental health called for warnings on the dangers of cannabis use to be printed on hand-rolled cigarette papers. The company in question, Imperial tobacco, which owns Rizla; the best selling brand of cigarette papers in the UK.
The campaign has been launched by Rethink, a national mental health charity, to call attention to how the company is ‘being irresponsible’ over it’s marketing and representation, claiming more members of the public associate the product with cannabis than tobacco.
It’s true Risla’s are popular among the cannabis smoking festival crowd at least, since year after year the grass at Reading Festival the floor is littered with empty packets, but there are many other negative associations which haven’t had attention called to them to the extent of a campaign.
In many ways it isn’t the company’s fault, the product they sell just happens to have a use which is outside the realms of the law, but how far can that defence hold? Are Limewire, Morpheus and other p2p programs innocent of the piracy going on within them?
Whether the company intended it to be used that way or not, what is true is that warnings do have an impact, and cannabis is a rising concern for police, particularly in young people, since it was down classified to a class C drug in 2004, which led to many young people now believing it to be ‘basically legal’.
The head of campaigns at Rethink, Jane Harris, said:
‘Health warnings work: 12% of people quit smoking as a result of warnings on
cigarette packets. Our research shows that young people want this information –
we think they should receive it as a right.’
Despite the negative press and public scepticism the company remains adamant, a spokesman said:
‘We don’t endorse the illegal use of cannabis using any of our products, and we
meet all the legal requirements with regard to packaging’.