RSPH is lending support to VICE UK’s drug safety campaign, ‘Safe Sesh’. The campaign is a multi-platform initiative that seeks to challenge the current political, cultural and social approaches to drug use in the UK.

It will seek to give frank and honest advice to young people on reducing the risks of drug use, without promoting it. The launch of the campaign coincides with the release of the government’s updated drug strategy today, widely expected to be a continuation of current policy.

To mark the launch, VICE UK have released YouGov polling assessing the drug habits and attitudes of 16-24 year olds, revealing:

  • More than a third (63%) of young people who have taken illegal drugs admitted that they have gone to school, college or work ‘high’.
  • One in five young people (20%) say they can get cocaine delivered to their house within 45 minutes or less.
  • Nearly two thirds (62%) of young people believe that the government’s current policies towards illegal drugs are ineffective

VICE UK’s intervention comes at a pivotal time in the UK drug policy debate, with drug-related deaths at record levels, harm from illegal drugs increasing, and almost one third of overdoses in the whole of Europe happening in the UK.

Since the release of its Taking a New Line on Drugs report in 2016, RSPH has been at the forefront of a growing movement within health, political and law enforcement professions calling for a fundamental reorientation of drug policy toward public health and harm reduction to tackle the issue.

Speaking from a major conference on drug policy reform being held by Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive RSPH, said: “Protecting the public from harm must be at the heart of UK drug policy. However, the continuing criminalisation of people who use drugs has helped perpetuate the most unsafe forms of use, exacerbated unnecessary risks, and discouraged people from engaging with drug support services if and when their use becomes problematic. Giving young people frank, open and honest advice that reflects the reality of modern drug use is not only sensible but necessary. We believe a pragmatic harm reduction approach is the only way to tackle the rise in deaths from illegal drugs in the UK, and this is why VICE’s latest drug safety campaign has our support.”

Jamie Clifton, Editor, VICE UK: "The Royal Society for Public Health have long been leading the charge on campaigning for a rational, public health-led approach to drugs policy at the national level. We're proud to be partnering with the RSPH on 'Safe Sesh' – a campaign we feel is both hugely important and long overdue. It will provide young people across the UK with honest and practical advice on how to stay as safe as possible if they are going to use drugs."