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Positive role for head of SAD

Friends of Alistair Ramsay might question his wisdom in becoming head of the Government's troubled Scotland Against Drugs campaign. They might say that he had moved from a positive role to a negative one. As health education adviser in Glasgow he had a promotional job, despite the welfare problems rife in the city. At SAD he inherits a campaign based on the need always to say no, a hardline anti-drugs message.

Mr Ramsay is likely (page five) to strike a different note. From his Glasgow experience he needs no reminding of the havoc wreaked by drugs. The change of emphasis would be in how to combat the menace. There is evidence that young people are not deterred from drug experiments simply by spelling out the dangers and telling them to steer clear. The same goes for the anti-smoking message.

Mr Ramsay will try to suggest that there is more to life than drugs. Since dependency is associated with deprivation and alienation, it is youngsters' lifestyles and prospects that have to be addressed. Mr Ramsay does not have all the answers, but teachers will look to SAD as an ally in raising young people's expectations and esteem.

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