As you read this I am just about to attend the Club Health 2002 Conference in Rimini, Italy. This is the second conference of its kind, with the first taking place in Amsterdam two years ago. It looks like being a fascinating event with some great topics being presented by some of the world’s leading experts on club health. Not only does the conference examine issues around club drug use, it also looks at topics such as passive smoking, club injuries (e.g. cigarette burns, glass injuries, etc), sexual health and ways to utilise patrons’ time at clubs to promote good health.

This comes at a time when interesting things are happening in the UK in this area. I am currently in London where last week the Government issued guidelines for club owners and licensees aimed to reduce drug-related problems. These guidelines, called the Safer Clubbing Guide, have been produced by the UK Home Office.

The booklet gives suggestions on reducing the likelihood of drug-related deaths occurring, emphasising that club owners need to ensure clubs provide adequate supplies of drinking water, prevent overcrowding, ensure proper air conditioning and ventilation, take steps to prevent overheating and ensure venues comply with health and safety legislation.

The pamphlet offers advice on how to prevent drugs getting into clubs, including using police-approved security staff to prevent dealers using door staff to run dealing operations, searches by well-trained teams, metal detectors to find weapons and regular patrols of the venue to help people and stop dealing inside the club.

In Australia, state and federal governments developed guidelines for clubs and party promoters in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately these were just guidelines and not able to be enforced by law. As a result over the years there have been many clubs and dance events which have chosen to ignore them.

Some experts believe that one of the reasons we are seeing increased problems in clubs and the subsequent police interest is that those early guidelines were not followed. The introduction of sniffer dogs is an example of extreme policing which would not have been considered a number of years ago. As drug use and dealing has become more blatant it really is no surprise that there has been an increase in police interest.

The UK guidelines should not be ignored by English clubs. If they do not regulate themselves, law enforcement will put more pressure on them and more strict legislative restrictions will be developed. But it is not just up to the club owners -“ clubgoers need to take some responsibility as well. If people want to continue to enjoy the nightclub and party experience they have to accept that club owners and party organisers are going to have to implement strategies to keep the environment safe. We need to self-regulate before imposed restrictions destroy clubbing!

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug, and no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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