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LCQ13: Appropriate strategies formulated to disseminate anti-drug messages

    Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, in the Legislative Council today (October 18):


     It was reported that in late July this year, a 13-year old girl was suspected to have died in the street due to abuse of psychotropic substances.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the number of young people aged 18 or below (in age groups of two years each) who were reported to engage in drug abuse over the past three years, and the change as expressed in percentage each year;

(b)  of the respective numbers of people in the three age groups, namely, those below 16, between 18 and 20, and 21 or above, who engaged in cross-boundary drug abuse over the past three years, and the change as expressed in percentage; and

(c)  whether it will allocate additional resources for stepping up the prevention of drug abuse and encouraging drug abusers to receive drug treatment and related services?


Madam President,

(a)  According to the Government's "Central Registry of Drug Abuse" (Note 1), the number of reported drug abusers aged 18 or below, and the year-on-year rate of change over the past three years are as follows:

          2003      2004                   2005
          ----      ----                   ----
          No.    No.  Year-on-year  No.  Year-on-year
          ---    ---   change       ---      change
                      (%)                   (%)
                     -----------        -----------
Aged 10
or below  -        -    -            -     -

11-12     *        *    -            *     -

13-14     142     138 -2.8          134    -2.9

15-16     576     511 -11.3         623    +21.9

17-18     754     783 +3.8          820    +4.7

--------  ----        ----                 ----
age of    16.4        16.5                 16.4
drug abusers
aged 18
or below

* Less than six persons

(b)  The "Central Registry of Drug Abuse" was redeveloped in 2005 to include a number of new data requirements, including the locality of taking drugs by the abusers.  Starting from May 2005, some reporting agencies have started to provide such data (e.g. Hong Kong or the Mainland) to the Registry.  An increasing number of agencies are now submitting the new data.  The trend cannot be established at this stage yet from the data available.

     Separately, a Survey of Drug Use among Students was conducted in 2004.  It was estimated that among the approximately 500,000 students in local secondary schools, international schools and Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, the proportion of those who usually used drugs in private premises or entertainment venues in the Mainland is as follows:

Proportion of secondary level students who
usually used drugs in the Mainland, 2004 (Note 2)
            Lifetime            Lifetime
            heroin users        psychotropic  
            (Note 3)            substance
                                users (Note 3)
            -------------       ---------------
premises        0.02%              0.03%
in the

venues          0.04%              0.16%
in the

(c) The Administration has all along adopted a multi-pronged approach to beat drugs.  In the light of the drug abuse trends and situation, we formulate appropriate strategies and join forces with the relevant Government departments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to combat drug abuse and trafficking.  

     To tackle the drug abuse problem among young people, we will strengthen preventive education and early intervention so as to enable youngsters to have an understanding of the harmful effects of drug abuse at an early age and to build up a positive and healthy lifestyle.  We will also provide them with timely services and assistance when necessary.

     On preventive education, we will produce a new set of TV Announcements in the Public Interest to educate the public on the harmful effects of the specific drugs which are commonly abused by young people.

     Parents play a very important part in the life and development of their children.  They could also play an important role in preventing drug abuse by their children.  Starting from this year, we have stepped up preventive education activities for parents.  We have organised seminars for parents to improve their skills in communicating with their children, enhancing their knowledge of drugs as well as heightening their awareness of signs of drug abuse.  To reach a wide audience of parents, the Administration is also liaising with radio stations on the production of a special radio programme to disseminate anti-drug messages.

     The Administration has all along attached great importance to school-based anti-drug education.  The Narcotics Division has, since September this year, extended anti-drug education talks to students at Primary 4 level and above from the previous Primary 5 and above to educate students on the scourge of drugs at an earlier age.  The Education and Manpower Bureau also launched in July 2006 a new website namely "Leading a Healthy Lifestyle", which provides useful information on drug abuse prevention that teachers may download as education resources.

     On treatment and rehabilitation, a working group has been set up under the Sub-Committee on Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Action Committee Against Narcotics to study the possibility of strengthening co-operation between private medical practitioners and social workers.  The aim is to widen the network for early intervention so that abusers may be given proper treatment or referred to counselling or other services at an early stage.

     Early intervention is also the strategy adopted by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for various services targeting the youth, including those Integrated Children and Youth Services Centres providing overnight outreaching service, for which SWD has allocated additional provision to enhance their services since August 2005.  As regards the five Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substance Abusers, we are actively considering enhancing support in terms of manpower and outreaching services.

     To address the problem of cross-boundary drug abuse, we have launched the "Sponsorship Scheme on Anti-Cross-boundary Drug Abuse Projects" which provides funding to non-profit-making organisations to hold anti-drug educational and publicity activities.

     To help steer high-risk youths away from drugs, the Beat Drugs Fund will continue to provide funding support to organisations to hold various kinds of anti-drug activities including preventive education.

     The Administration has spared no efforts in combating the drug problem.  Extra resources are being allocated to areas of need.  To effectively tackle the problem of drug abuse among the youth, the concerted efforts of Government, families, schools, the mass media and NGOs are imperative in order to achieve the desired results.  We will continue to explore new horizons in our fight against drug abuse.  We will collaborate and develop a strategic partnership with all sectors of the community in this battle.

(Note 1): The "Central Registry of Drug Abuse" collects and compiles statistical information regarding drug abuse.  Drug abusers' information is submitted by a network of reporting agencies voluntarily.  The reporting network is extensive, covering law enforcement agencies, treatment and rehabilitation organisations, welfare agencies, tertiary institutions, hospitals and clinics.

(Note 2): In the survey, students were allowed to choose only the most usual place where they took drugs.

(Note 3): Lifetime users refer to persons who had ever abused the drugs concerned once or more in their lifetime, regardless of whether they were still abusing drugs at the time of survey enumeration.  Some students might use both heroin and psychotropic substances.

Ends/Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Issued at HKT 16:04