PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am

Q How can teenage drug abuse be reduced?

As a parent of a teenage girl, I would like to offer some suggestions which might reduce teenage drug abuse. These are taken from my own experience. Awareness of the effects of taking soft drugs should be raised by highlighting it through the media and schools. Experts could be asked to give talks at secondary schools.

Parents should also try to find time to talk and listen to their teenage children. This will make them feel loved and cared for. They will know who to look to for help when problems occur and will be unlikely to take drugs as a solution.

Kalaya Moore, Lamma Island

Once again there is the mistake of associating cannabis with other so-called soft drugs, ketamine and Ecstasy. The link is fictional at best. The fact remains that every independent study of cannabis use has found it less dangerous and damaging than alcohol and cigarettes (two legal substances).

In one study last year, tobacco contains naturally radioactive carcinogens lead 210 and polonium 210, elements that cannabis lacks. More recent studies have found it unrelated to lung cancer and even capable of reducing the risk of other cancers.

This is not to say that marijuana is harmless, but no one uses nearly as much as they would if addicted to tobacco.

People in Hong Kong are raised to believe that if something is illegal it is automatically bad, but the fact is that a cannabis joint, enjoyed recreationally, is a far safer way to relax after work than a trip to the bar for 'happy hour'. To allow open distribution of alcohol and yet prohibit cannabis is hypocritical.

Perhaps what is most disturbing about the recent drug survey published by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service is that cannabis was ranked third behind two drugs that can harm people. Certainly no parent would want their children addicted to drugs, but loosening the laws on marijuana could at least help give teenagers a safer choice than Ecstasy, ketamine, cigarettes or alcohol.

James Bone, Kwai Fong

Q Do you think switching to paper bags will help the environment?

I must admit that much of the environmentalists' work is laudable. But I do have my reservations when it comes to plastic bags and air conditioners.

I don't use the plastic trash bags supplied by my building management, instead I reuse those from the supermarket because they're more durable, not because I care about what happens when I throw it away. With several mouths to feed, over-using plastic bags is never on my mind and it's never going to be. When I go to work each morning, I don't bring along a reusable bag in case I need to buy something later. My wife does, only because she knows she is going grocery shopping. Because I don't have my own bag, do I have to be penalised for using plastic bags when I buy something?

If I sit in my office from 9am-5pm every day and set the air-conditioner's temperature at 25.5 degrees Celsius, that's fine. But I don't sit in the office all day, I spend much of my time meeting clients and making deliveries. I don't wear suits or clothes with long sleeves, and by noon I am a walking fountain. It can be embarrassing when you are meeting clients or in an elevator full of people. With building temperatures set at 25.5 degrees, you won't even notice the air conditioner is on. When you step into a building or bus that is really cool, it makes you wants to give the management a kiss!

Before the greenies nail me to the wall, I would like them to know I am just your average Joe making ends meet in a very expensive city and some of their causes don't cut with me. It's fine when you are young, back from university overseas and have learned all these ideals about making the Earth a better place to live in. But when reality steps in, I can foresee your ideals going out in a plastic trash bag.

William Sim, South Horizon

Other matters ...

According to reports in the South China Morning Post, in response to the shooting in Tsim Sha Tsui the police have pledged to crack down on all businesses controlled by the two triad factions believed to be involved. They will also conduct daily raids on the entertainment premises controlled by them until the situation improves.

The obvious question is that as the police already had information about these premises, why didn't they raid them before the shooting? Also noteworthy is that the police said they would continue with their raids until the gang violence dies down. Not stop, but die down.

Officers have since raided entertainment premises and people have been arrested. Presumably those people would still be free if it were not for the shooting. And those arrested are low-level gang members or mainland overstayers who work as prostitutes.

The only other times the police conduct such raids is when gang members confront officers in places such as Mongkok. It is ludicrous that quite often those confrontations are defused when more senior triad members arrive and apologise to the police on behalf of their gang members.

Before the handover, it was reported that mainland officials had held talks with triad leaders in Hong Kong. One official said the triads could be classed as patriotic provided they did not cause social instability and would be able to continue operating. Most people at the time didn't really believe the reports, but it would appear they were correct. By the police action, it would seem that provided the gangs do not try to kill each other on the streets or confront the police, they can continue to control businesses without interference.

I expect entertainment premises controlled by other triads have seen an increase in business as customers avoid places being raided by the police. Maybe this is their reward for 'behaving' themselves.

Would the commissioner of police like to comment? Probably not.

A few years ago, if a letter to this paper mentioned a government department one could be fairly certain of a response. These days the responses, especially from the police, are noticeably absent.

Name and address supplied