UK festivals launch 24-hour ‘legal highs’ awareness campaign

The websites of UK independent festivals will today (Monday, May 4) be ‘blacked out’ as part of a 24-hour campaign to highlight the dangers of so-called ‘legal highs’.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the London based trade association that represents UK music festival organisers, is organising the initiative alongside legal highs charity Angelus.

From 9am today, the sites will be replaced with an image of a digital roulette wheel and the message ‘You Could Lose the Lot on Legal Highs’ to highlight the unpredictability of such substances.

Over 40 events will participate, including major festivals such as Glastonbury, T in the Park, Secret Garden Party, Bestival, Isle of Wight, Lovebox and Parklife.

The blackout page will lead to an infographic displaying key statistics, facts and advice about legal highs.

This will include information and guidance about nitrous oxide, so called ‘laughing gas’ following growing concerns about its popular use by young people- including a letter from the Home Office to festival organisers advising that they take action against its use on festival sites.

“The dangers of so-called legal highs are still of great concern to our members.”

Paul Reed, Association of Independent Festivals

Paul Reed, General Manager of AIF said, “Following the huge success of this campaign last year we felt that it was important to revisit it in 2015. The dangers of so-called legal highs are still of great concern to our members and anyone involved in staging music festivals.

“We want all events this summer to be safe, enjoyable environments for music fans. This is an important message and we are very pleased to say that support for this initiative is growing, with over 40 festivals participating this year.”

Angelus CEO, Jan King, said, “Last year there were over a hundred new substances identified across the EU; the range of legal high products changes rapidly with different mixes of ingredients and unpredictable effects. The only thing that stays the same is people’s lack of knowledge of how harmful these legal drugs are.

“We are working with the Association of Independent Festivals to get the message out that taking these substances, especially mixing with alcohol, is a huge gamble. Collapsing from the effects of these drugs is all too common – don’t let your main memory of a festival be the inside of the welfare tent.”

In 2012 there were 73 new ‘legal highs’ substances, in 2013 there 81 more and last year the figure rose to 101 (EMCDDA Figures).

According to Office for National Statistics, there were at least 60-recorded deaths from legal substances in 2014. The Royal Edinburgh Hospital Toxins Unit recorded 114 admissions from legal drugs between March and August 2014.

In 2014, AIF’s ‘Don’t Be In The Dark’ campaign involved over 20 music festivals participating in an online blackout, which saw the homepages on their respective official websites replaced for 24 hours by a message highlighting the dangers of legal highs.

This campaign attracted global media attention and reached over 9 million people on social media.

 Music Business Worldwide

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