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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Kevin Jackson, Peter Silva, Greg Wind, Glenn Rossman

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Health Canada Statement on the Health Risks to Youth of Marijuana and Prescription Drug Use

OTTAWA, Aug. 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Health Canada regularly undertakes evidence-based communications to raise awareness about serious public health issues. From 2007 to 2012, for example, as part of the government's National Anti-Drug Strategy, the Department developed the DrugsNot4Me mass media campaign. The Department also engages with partners on smoking cessation campaigns like "Break It Off".

As standard practice, the Department seeks partnerships and invites health professionals to share their insights and experiences to ensure that we have captured the risks accurately. The intent of the campaigns is educational and the material is based on evidence and science.

The proposed focus, messages and concepts for such campaigns are routinely informed by consultation sessions where health professional groups identify sound public health messaging.

The prevalence and health risks of marijuana and prescription drug use and abuse make them compelling public health issues in Canada.

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug among Canadian youth today.  According to the 2012-2013 Canadian Youth Smoking Survey, one in five students reported using marijuana in the year preceding the survey. The average age of initiation being 14 years old.

Prescription drug abuse is also having a devastating impact on communities and people of all ages across the country. According to a 2013 report of the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, behind only by the United States.

In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15 to 24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past 12 months.

Health Canada will continue to work to find ways to raise awareness among parents and youth about the health risks of marijuana and prescription drug abuse. We will not speculate on future campaigns.

SOURCE Health Canada

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