Department of Health and Social Care
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New advertising explores the darker side of cocaine

FRANK warns young people of risk to the heart and nose.

New advertising from drugs information and advice service, FRANK, launched on Friday 9 October to warn 15 to 18 year olds about the risks of using cocaine, and the damage it can do to the heart and nose.  

The £1.6 million TV, digital, cinema and outdoor advertising campaign will extend last year’s successful* Pablo the drug mule dog campaign, with two new additional TV ads continuing Pablo’s journey to expose the darker side of coke. One ad, featuring a gory beating and talking heart, will show the link between cocaine and heart attacks and seizures. The other ad, featuring a snotty and bloody talking nostril, will show the immediate and longer term damage the drug can do to the structure of the nose.

By showing the multiple health risks of using cocaine, the ads aim to undermine the appeal of the drug and prevent use amongst young people who have used it occasionally or who might be considering using it for the first time.

Dr Ken Checinski, senior consultant in addictive behaviour and drugs expert from FRANK, explains:

'Cocaine isn’t a safe party drug – it’s addictive, cut with all sorts of chemicals and when used over several hours, or in large doses, increases blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate. It can also cause a perfectly healthy heart to start skipping beats leading to cardiac arrest. Due to the strain cocaine also puts on the liver and immune system, the risks increase when used in combination with alcohol.

'For information about cocaine, or any other drug, talk to FRANK for free and in confidence at any time of the day or night by calling 0800 77 66 00 or by visiting the Talk to Frank website. You can also text FRANK a question to 82111.”

Ellen Mason, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation said:

'There are risks every time that you take cocaine, whether the first or the hundredth. Cocaine can be deadly for the heart, and has been associated with heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms and strokes. All of these can lead to death. Cocaine can lead to a heart attack even in younger hearts where there is no heart disease.'

While only a minority of people take cocaine, with 6.6%** of under 25s saying they have used it in the last year, calls requesting information and advice about the drug accounted for almost a quarter (23.93%) of all traffic to the FRANK helpline in 2008-09, making it the second most asked about topic after cannabis (29%).

The new ads advise young people about the dangers of cocaine as they get ready for a Friday night out. They will continue to air during October, November and January on Channel 4, Channel 5 and on satellite channels during programming that targets 15 to 18 year olds. Digital, cinema and outdoor advertising will run at various points during this period to support the TV campaign.

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