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It's high time to crack down on legal highs, as a KM Group campaign calls for tougher controls

Is your child or friend dabbling in 'drugs' that can be legally bought over the counter, but could cause a heart attack or even death?

Legal highs are marked as 'not for human consumption' and are openly sold as research chemicals.

But with names such as Exodus Damnation, Clockwork Orange or White Widow, the only people experimenting seem to be the youngsters who play Russian roulette with their health or even their lives.

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A user smokes a legal high. Picture: Library image
A user smokes a legal high. Picture: Library image

Coming in garish packets, the lure for many teenagers is the bright colours and the promise of a cheap kick.

After all, if they're legal they can't do much harm, can they?

The stark facts in Kent alone are very different.

A Gravesend youngster died after experimenting with legal highs. A Canterbury lad suffered a near-fatal heart attack after trying out the legally-sold substance, and three schoolchildren were recently taken to hospital after buying highs from a pal.

These substances can be as much a killer as heroin or crack cocaine - if one child dies as a result of taking legal highs it is as fatal as any Class A drug.

In fact, do you even know if your loved ones are experimenting with the chemical cocktails?

Many youngsters, who would refuse to go to backstreet dealers to buy illegal drugs, would think nothing of dabbling in highs they can buy over the counter at a store on many high streets across Kent.

Legal highs are a growing problem
Legal highs are a growing problem

How to stop the trade in these potential killers is another matter.

If we seek to ban them we risk pushing them underground, or challenging the producers to concoct new legal highs that have not already been banned.

If we try to close the stores that peddle the substances there is a healthy trade online to replace them, and, after all, we allow shops to sell the other legal high of alcohol, don't we?

Video: Reporter Kiran Kaur introduces the High Time campaign

The best way to tackle the issue is to take the lure and attractiveness away from the product - making the packaging plain and making health warnings clearer - and to ensure as many youngsters as possible are aware they are dicing with death every time they open a packet.

We don't need them to find that out when they're ill in a hospital bed... or worse.

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