appetite/tolerance/acceptance depends upon risk
perception which may be biased by familiarity.
Familiar, traditional risks are underestimated and
unfamiliar or non-traditional risks overestimated.
Risk management (regulation) is proportionately
biased. Consider sexism and racism, then the
discrimination between traditional v non-traditional
Council on the Misuse of Drugs report, Drug misuse and the environment:
environment can encourage or oppose drug use partly
through greater or lesser physical access to drugs,
the presence of drug markets and knowledge of them,
the number of dealers and the level of enforcement.
In addition, the environment comprises prevalent,
normative attitudes towards drugs which make these
drugs more or less attractive and acceptable to the
6.15 For many young people alcohol, tobacco and
illicit drugs inhabit one and the same world rather
than constituting separate domains. The possible
influence of their illicit drug-taking behaviour
which is exerted by the climate of ideas on licit
drugs needs therefore to be considered. The majority
of people who have used illicit drugs have previously
used tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol and cigarette
smoking have been found to be the most powerful
predictors of marijuana use.
2.27 it is important to also look at the use of
tobacco, alcohol, and solvents, since early use of
these drugs has been shown to predict later use of
50. If society intends to provide young people with
an environment which helps them not to take illicit
drugs, or to reduce the harms which they do, the
climate of awareness and beliefs on alcohol and
tobacco must be seen as part of that context.
58. We question whether it is sensible to confine
drug prevention messages to the health consequences
of taking drugs. We give some examples of other
approaches, involving social unacceptability, which
might be considered.
94. Not to take action against blatant dealing must
have a symbolic importance which should not be
disregarded. It suggests a "don't care"
attitude which can only affect the climate of beliefs
Nations definition of drugs:
drugs? A very basic question but one that needs to be
clarified. For, if we start thinking of drugs as just
the substances that cause problems or are abused by
people we know, then we are likely to ignore other
substances that, for one reason or another, are not
thought of as drugs by our immediate communities. A
psychoactive substance is any substance people take
to change either the way they feel, think, or behave.
This description covers alcohol and tobacco as well
as other natural and manufactured drugs".
http://www.unodc.org/youthnet/pdf/handbook.pdf - Chap 2, p.1
drug education website, Talk to
play a major part in many people's social lives.
That's why it's easy to forget that it's actually a
very powerful drug".
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology
leaflet Safety in Numbers:
People appear to be more willing to accept
risks that are familiar rather than new risks".
of Healths Communicating
about risks to public health:
generally more worrying (and less acceptable) if
perceived to arise from an unfamiliar or novel
breeds contempt". The risks of familiar drugs,
alcohol and tobacco, are treated with contempt.
"Better the devil you know". Risks that are
familiar are easier to manage than those unfamiliar
(or may appear so).
Unit's Risk: improving government's capability to
handle risk and uncertainty
4.2.9 The EIU report
of 2001, Enterprise Risk Management (ERM)  found
non-traditional risks pose the greatest threat.
Executives reported that their most significant
risks arent those traditionally managed by
the risk management or treasury departments. The
top three are customer loyalty, competitive
threats, and operational failure. These are also
among the risks companies believe they manage
least well. Equivalents in the public sector
would be public satisfaction and trust in
services, and maintaining service delivery;
drug consumers are not 'loyal' to the Government but
choose drugs that compete with those the Government
licenses leading to a failure of Government
This biased risk
assessment leads to proportionately biased
regulations - the over-regulation of non-traditional
drugs (prohibition) and under-regulation of
traditional drugs. The discrimination between
traditional and non-traditional drugs shares the same
fundamental characteristic as sex, race and
disability discrimination. Unjust discrimination
seems to be founded on prejudice by the traditional
majority against non-traditional minorities. The
pre-judgement made (judgement before evidence) is
that the non-traditional is more harmful than the
traditional. Non-traditional minorities are then
over-regulated (either consciously or unconsciously),
denied equal opportunity, instead being socially
excluded. The traditional majority benefits from
under-regulation as regulations are focused on the
minorities. The discrimination is justified on the
basis of harm with no acceptance that the
discrimination is actually merely between the
traditional and non-traditional. This may be a common
factor in many cases of organisational culture
resistant to change.
dictate familiarity. We are all familiar with
traditional drugs so we accept them. Only now is
legislation proposed to prevent tobacco addicts
killing others through passive smoking. Few are
concerned that a drug that warns it kills is sold
alongside sweets for children. 90% of adults use
stimulant and intoxicant drugs to alter mood for
non-medicinal reasons: caffeine and
alcohol. Society is in denial about its acceptance of
drug taking: we refuse to call traditional drugs