Health experts aim to raise awareness as 'legal highs' ban comes into force

Health experts in Leeds are teaming up with enforcement agencies to raise awareness of the potentially deadly risk posed by a range of drugs often known as 'legal highs'.

Following a change in the law the 'Illegal Highs - Not for Human Consumption' campaign aims to raise awareness of the health harms and the change in legislation around these drugs

The city's drug and alcohol service Forward Leeds, in partnership with Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police, are launching the initiative as part of the citywide drug and alcohol strategy.

The belief held by many that because these drugs are 'legal' that they must be 'safe' has proved disastrous. There has been many reports of people losing consciousness, having psychotic episodes and even dying from these ever-changing substances which are produced by an unregulated industry.

Lisa Parker, Executive Director of Forward Leeds

The campaign will see targeted advertising across the city, particularly in hot spots for young adults, such as near colleges and universities, leisure centres and in Vue cinemas.

A dedicated website will give information, advice and safety tips. Forward Leeds are also arranging to offer one to one support and advice via the site's chat function.

There is a real need to communicate both the change in legislation and the health risks to people in Leeds, especially young adults. We have seen an increase in the number of people ringing emergency services and getting admitted to hospital because they have taken these substances.

Cllr Lisa Mulherin

The government's Psychoactive Substances Bill became law at midnight on 26th May 2016. It made it an offence to produce, supply or offer to supply any substance likely to be used for its psychoactive effects, regardless of its potential for harm. Laughing gas (Nitrogen oxide) is also a substance included in the new legislation.

A number of students have been using laughing gas so it is important to make them aware of the new legal risks associated with psychoactive substances as well as the health risks. This campaign is an excellent opportunity to communicate this message, along with the risks and harms, to them.

Adam Shepherd, Student Welfare Adviser for Leeds Trinity Students' Union