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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Drug abuse 'makes new inroads'
Drug addict in Afghanistan
Drugs remain a scourge in Afghanistan
Shocking new figures on the extent of drug abuse in Russia and China have been announced on the United Nations International Day against Drug Addiction.

About four million Russians are addicted to drugs, according to the head of the country's state committee on illegal drugs.

Viktor Cherkessov was quoting unofficial research giving the lie to the existing official figure of about 1.5m addicts out of Russia's 143m-strong population.

China marked the awareness-raising event in traditional manner, by publicly executing or jailing traffickers, while in Portugal, a conference on drugs and traffic accidents opened.

China also reported a rise in drug addiction - by 11% since 2001, bringing the number of registered addicts to more than 1m.

Drug-driving

One in 10 crimes in Russia is now drug-related and the illegal trade is now worth about $10bn a year, Mr Cherkessov said. However, this is a mere fraction of global turnover - reckoned by some to be about $400bn.

Mr Cherkessov warned that Russia faced a twin threat from both its proximity to producing regions such as Central Asia and its own highly developed scientific and chemical industries, which could be exploited by drugs manufacturers.

As well as publicly destroying drugs nationwide on Thursday, China executed or jailed scores of people for trafficking, with 17 death sentences handed down in Hunan Province alone.

Meanwhile, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, based in Lisbon, marked the day with a study on approaches to drugs in road safety.

Chinese drug-trafficker receives jail sentence
China's habitual reaction to drugs is to crack down

A few years ago driving under the influence of drugs was rarely considered in legislation, but there is now a strong EU-wide consensus it should be a criminal offence, says the BBC's Alison Roberts, in Lisbon.

In an EU survey last year, 80% of young people said they believed police should test for drugs as well as alcohol.

There is great diversity in penalties for drug-driving and in the criteria determining if it is a crime, our correspondent says.

Legislation may or may not include pharmaceuticals, or make dangerous driving a condition for criminal charges.

Also in Lisbon, scientists from Europe, Canada and the US compared notes on Thursday on treatment for addiction, and on drug prevention in isolated or high-risk groups.




SEE ALSO:
Afghanistan in the grip of opium
18 Jun 03  |  South Asia
China admits sharp drug abuse rise
26 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Asia 'faces new drug scourge'
20 May 02  |  Asia-Pacific


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