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Opinion: Both talk and action needed in drug fight
( 2003-06-26 09:55) (China Daily)

Today marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, with this year's theme being "Let's talk about drugs."

According to the United Nations, the theme stresses the need for children, families, colleagues, teachers and communities to talk about drug abuse, admit that it is a problem and take responsibility for doing something about it.

Talking about drugs can break the silence and stigma that surround people who are drug-dependent. It can make people aware of the seriousness of the problem and help in our fight against drug abuse.

Confronted with the cruel reality of widespread drug abuse worldwide, we can no longer keep silent. Open discussion is the starting point to solving drug-related problems.

China has chosen "care for the future" as its theme for the anti-drug day. This is aimed at young people, on whom the future of our country rests.

The latest figures paint a grave picture of young people's extensive involvement in drug abuse and drug-related crime.

By the end of last year, drug users registered by the police numbered 1 million, up 11 per cent over 2001, according to the National Narcotic Control Commission.

The figure is alarming enough in itself. More disturbing still, however, is that 74.2 per cent of them are aged under 35. There are even 10,000 under 16 years old.

According to the Ministry of Public Security, drug abuse has led more young people into committing crimes such as theft and looting.

The fact that young people are falling victim of drug abuse forces us to react and we must react quickly.

While relentlessly continuing the fight against drug trafficking and abuse, the drug-control authorities and society as a whole should attach more importance to educating people, especially young people, to keep them away from drugs.

Curiosity and ignorance are major factors that lead young people into drug abuse. Active and eager to try different things, some even regard taking drugs as something trendy that displays their unique character.

They are prone to become victims unless they are given correct guidance and adequate information on the dire consequences of drug abuse.

We should never loosen our grip when fighting illicit drug trafficking, and should more actively seek international co-operation to deal with cross-border crime. However, it is also time for us to put more effort into ensuring that our young people have access to information on drugs.

Against a background of drug abuse and drug-related crime running rampant worldwide, and with such illegal activities penetrating China's vast interior from the country's border areas, what has already been done is far from enough.

We need more aggressive campaigns, and we need to talk more loudly to ensure that everyone hears the anti-drugs message.

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