Fame is no excuse for taking drugs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 5:05am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 August, 2014, 9:01am

The special treatment and adulation that celebrities receive can be highly addictive. But fame can also lead to drug addiction, which is why stars of stage, screen and the written word are being targeted in a nation-wide crackdown on abusers. Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee, and Taiwanese actor Ko Chen-tung are the latest to be arrested, sending a clear message to fans and the general populace alike that no matter who is involved, there is zero tolerance. It is a creative way to deal with an aspect of a worsening problem.

President Xi Jinping declared a war on drugs in June for good reason: China has more than 2.5 million addicts, 75 per cent under the age of 35. Growing affluence has fuelled demand, leading to inevitable social and economic costs for the nation. The consequences are deaths from overdoses, illness, domestic violence, crime, traffic accidents, lost opportunities and reduced productivity. Strict measures implemented against use, trafficking and manufacturing of illegal substances, particularly synthetic drugs like methamphetamines, are understandable.

Celebrities, as role models, can help curb drug use. Ko was involved in an anti-drug campaign in 2012. But too often, the pressure of their jobs can also lead to abuse and addiction. Jaycee Chan - better known as Jaycee Fong Cho-ming - and Ko join a growing list of performers who are among the tens of thousands of people apprehended, charged or sentenced for drug offences so far this year.

We have a double standard when it comes to celebrities: they are counted on for entertainment, gossip included, but we also hold them to high moral standards. Technology has given us easy access to their lives and all it takes is a click or two to know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with. That means they can be immensely influential, especially to impressionable young people. Like it or not, as the mainland battles the scourge of drugs, actors, singers and authors have an obligation to steer clear of illegal substances.