Ros Phillips of FamilyVoice Australia is calling for a TV advertising campaign and specialised rehab services to help Australians quit cannabis.
“Right now we are seeing a very effective TV campaign, encouraging tobacco smokers to quit,” Mrs Phillips, national FamilyVoice research officer said. “But there is nothing to encourage cannabis or marijuana smokers to do the same, despite mounting evidence of the damage it does to physical and mental health.
“The latest study, confirming the link between cannabis and schizophrenia was released this week,” she said.
“Earlier studies have shown the increased risk of depression associated with cannabis use, on top of physical problems like those of tobacco – lung and other diseases.”
Mrs Phillips said one third of all Australians have used cannabis at some time. Even more disturbing are the 14 per cent of Aussie teens who are users, and who face a greater risk of harm because their brains are still developing.
“Compare this 14 per cent of dope-smoking teens with the 13.5 per cent who smoke tobacco (AIHW 2005), and ask yourself why there is a Quit Tobacco campaign but not Quit Cannabis,” Ros Phillips said.
“Tobacco causes lung cancer, heart disease and other problems – but cannabis can lead to these diseases and serious mental illness as well. It can destroy careers and family life even before they have begun.”
Ros Phillips says there is plenty of government support for tobacco addicts and to a degree for addicts of other drugs – but no dedicated rehab program to help people wanting to quit Australia’s most used illicit drug.
“I call upon all state and federal governments to address this very serious health problem,” she said.
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