Education seen as the key to tackling drugs problem
Education will have the same priority as enforcement in the mainland's war against drugs, especially among young people.
The Public Security Ministry's State Narcotics Control Committee, which issued a new guideline in its 2004-2008 anti-drug work programme, singled out better drug education as the key to eliminating the growing problem with illegal substances.
Committee director Zhou Yongkang said the change in direction would put education on par with other anti-drug efforts.
'Educating young people, especially middle school and primary school students, is the key,' the guideline said.
From this year, students from 10 to 17 will take drug-prevention courses.
Similar education campaigns will be launched in residential communities, companies and villages.
The committee said the new guideline was in response to an increase in the number of Aids cases and drug-related crimes which affected public health, social stability and economic development.
China had more than 1 million registered drug addicts at the end of last year, with 72.2 per cent of them under 35.
'The seriousness of our country's drug problem is increasing. The anti-drug task faces huge pressure,' committee deputy director Luo Feng said.
Peking University sociology professor Xia Xueluan said mainland authorities had worked hard to crack down on drug-related crimes in the past 10 years but the existing approach was inadequate.
'The huge population of young drug addicts shows that [present] education to help people quit drugs is not enough,' Professor Xia said.
'Young people are facing pressures as they grow - from family and China's changing society.'
He added that young people desperately needed more thorough education and help in developing the right attitude about themselves and the world.