'Target solvent abuse'

More children aged 15 or under die from solvent abuse than drug abuse, according to a new report.

Its authors say schools must continue to focus on issues such as glue sniffing and lighter fuel inhalation in personal and social education lessons.

The number of under-18s who died as a result of solvent abuse rose from nine to 13 in 2004. Eight deaths were due to butane cigarette lighter refills, which are illegal to sell to children.

However, total deaths (including adults) were down to 47 from a 1990 peak of 152. In Wales, three adults and a 16-year-old girl died in 2004, the most recent year for which data is available. In 2003, only one person died.

But the country's solvent-related death rate is lower than expected compared with parts of England and Northern Ireland.

Over the past five years, 30 children aged 10 to 14 have died from solvent abuse, compared with four from drugs. The pattern is reversed among older children, but solvents were still a factor in one in 100 of all deaths among those aged 15 to 18 in 2004.

Trends in death associated with abuse of volatile substances 1971-2004, by M E Field-Smith et al, division of community health sciences, St George's university of London, see www.vsareport.org

* karen.thornton@tes.co.uk

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