The Health Promotion Agency behind “no more beersies for you” & “ghost chips” campaigns, says it doesn’t have the mandate to pursue legal highs.
Labour associate health spokesman said that “The HPA should be mandated and resourced to reduce the harm associated with legal highs,”
The agency was created under legislation in 2012 when the Alcohol Advisory Council (Alac) and the Health Sponsorship Council merged.
It absorbed the advisory functions of Alac, but has campaigned on tobacco, gambling and other issues like depression and influenza vaccinations.
However when it comes to legal highs, synthetic cannabis and psychoactive substances, the sale of which is now heavily regulated by the Government, it’s unable to highlight some of the risks that may be involved.
“Much of the money required to run the organisation comes from special alcohol and gambling levies.” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
HPA chief executive Clive Nelson said the agency is constrained by what it is commissioned to do.
“We don’t have a mandate in that area, and if there was a frustration for us, it would probably be that we have a special responsibilty in alcohol. But in some of the other areas we are constrained.”
While the agency was able to promote awareness around responsible drinking, it was not allowed to move autonomously on other health issues of national significance, despite being a crown entity.