Scottish pubs targeted in cocaine campaign

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image captionSurveys have suggested most young people think cocaine is relatively safe

The Scottish government is launching its biggest ever awareness-raising campaign on the dangers of cocaine use.

Staff will visit 140 pubs and clubs used by 18 to 24 year olds in the country's main towns and cities, in the run-up to Christmas.

Cocaine users run the risk of experiencing paranoia, chest pains and a raised risk of heart attack.

Surveys of young people have revealed the majority believe using the Class A drug is relatively safe.

However, research has suggested male users are more than twice as likely to die from it than female, and that both groups increase their chances of a heart attacks if they take the drug.

The latest stage of the Scottish government's Know the Score campaign aims to raise their awareness of these health risks.

'Purity values'

Staff will visit the pubs on Friday and Saturday nights over the next four weekends to speak to 18 to 24 year olds and offer them advice.

A United Nations report published in June claimed Scotland has among the highest levels of cocaine use in the world, with 3.7% of the population said to be using the drug each year.

Prof Graeme Pearson, from Glasgow University's Unit for the Study of Serious Organised Crime, said: "About 10 years ago, maybe a bit more, cocaine became prevalent in Scotland and was seen as a kind of clean drug and had a reputation as being somewhat upmarket and acceptable.

"Over the last decade the purity values of the drug have fallen very significantly. Ten years ago purity values were over 40% - today they're below 20%, sometimes 10%, and as a result the price has also fallen.

"But part of the reason that Scotland has such a difficult relationship with cocaine is that, along with the rest of Europe, it has been targeted by the South American drug dealers."

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