Bill to cut sales of cough medicine

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 May, 1994, 12:00am

TOUGHER action will be taken on illicit sales of cough medicines under a bill gazetted yesterday, but an anti-drug campaigner warned it could backfire.

The bill, to be tabled to the Legislative Council next week, seeks to crack down on the importing of cough mixture ingredients and on illicit sales of cough medicine.

Dr Jeffrey Day, lecturer in curriculum studies specialising in health education at Hong Kong University, feared that if young people were denied access to soft drugs they could turn to hard drugs.

''I'm concerned the bill may have an opposite affect. Heroin is ridiculously cheap and easy to purchase and I fear youngsters may turn to hard drugs if it's made too difficult for them to get their hands on soft drugs.'' Commissioner for Narcotics, Alasdair Sinclair, yesterday said he was concerned by the continuing abuse of cough medicines by young people.

''We want to make sure things are made difficult for anyone behaving irresponsibly and falling into the temptation of selling medicines illicitly.'' He said despite the tougher laws brought in last year which helped lower rates of cough mixture abuse, the problem had still not been eradicated.

The bill will give authorised officers more power to seize suspected illegal substances.

It will also require licences to import specific chemicals for dangerous drugs.

Among the other bill amendments gazetted yesterday, were the introduction of documentation requirements for exporting dangerous drugs and new provisions to suppress illicit drug traffic by sea.