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The Drug Foundation today called for a halt to all advertising of party pills, saying that the practice of marketing social drugs may contribute to an increase in drug-related problems in New Zealand.

The Advertising Standards Complaints Board has found against the promoters of 'A-Class' party pills for billboards that showed a scene inside a jail cell including bloody and soiled underwear, with the slogan 'Legal party pills – because jail sux'.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that the advertisements should not have been allowed on billboards in the first place.

"It undermines the current restrictions on television, radio and print media advertising of party pills to allow for giant billboards," said Mr Bell.

"These billboards are often placed near high-volume traffic routes and, subsequently, are viewed by many young people – a significant proportion of them can't even legally purchase these products.

"The evidence shows that alcohol advertising entices young people who cannot legally drink to try alcohol. It follows that party pill advertising attracts increased use among underage people so this should be strongly discouraged."

"Cracking down on the marketing of tobacco products has been a key tool to reduce smoking rates. While party pills do not pose the same public health problems as tobacco, we should take a precautionary approach to ensure these products are not marketed to young people."

Mr Bell urged the Ministry of Health to implement new regulations over the advertising of party pills, especially billboards and point of sale at dairies.

"It's been eight months since parliament passed amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act allowing for advertising restrictions. This is time enough, we need tighter controls on advertising now to give the new amendments a chance to work," said Mr Bell.

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