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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 00:58 GMT 01:58 UK


Doctors discuss cigarettes and alcohol

Doctors want a clampdown on alcohol advertising

Doctors will debate calls for a ban on alcohol advertising in cinemas and on smoking in public places at their annual conference on Wednesday.

[ image: Some doctors want cannabis legalised]
Some doctors want cannabis legalised
A motion has also been submitted to the British Medical Association's annual representative meeting calling for the legalisation of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal use. However, it is unclear whether this motion will be debated.

The medical potential of cannabis is currently being examined in a number of carefully controlled trials in the UK.

But Wednesday's motion will call on doctors to lobby the government to adopt a much more relaxed position.

The government remains opposed to recreational use of the drug, saying legislation allowing it would pave the way to abuse of harder drugs.

Cigarettes and alcohol

The proposed ban on alcohol advertisements in cinemas would apply to all screenings except those of a film with an 18 certificate.

In a motion chastising the government for its slow progress in tackling smoking, doctors also call for a total ban on smoking in public places, tobacco advertising in shops and stiffer penalties for shopkeepers who sell tobacco products to under-16s.

The government's performance on public health issues will also come under attack in another motion during a debate on waiting lists.

It will deplore the government's greater emphasis on reducing waiting lists than publishing the public health White Paper, Our Healthier Nation, which finally came out on Tuesday.

The BMA's board of science and education will come under pressure to examine the evidence regarding the effect of depleted uranium on health.

The issue has proved controversial in the past with soldiers claiming that exposure to such weapons caused Gulf War Syndrome.

Other internationally significant issues will be on the agenda in the morning, with doctors urging the association to join the growing number of groups lobbying the government to drop all third world debt.

Access to care

The meeting will also look at the UK government's latest set of NHS reforms - drop-in clinics and NHS Direct.

NHS Direct is being tested in parts of England at the moment as a nurse-operated phone line.

Patients can call it up and get advice on whether or not they need to see a doctor, but it may be extended to allow patients to make an appointment with a GP or even at a hospital outpatients department.

The concept of walk-in clinics concerns some doctors because it will allow patients to drop in to see any GP, not necessarily their own.

This, along with NHS Direct, could destroy continuity of care and the relationship between doctor and patient and undermine the GP's role as gatekeeper to the NHS, they say.

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