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Push to Sell Workplace Party Pills Condemned

15 March 2006

Cosgrove Condemns Push to Sell Workplace Party Pills

The Associate Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for Waimakariri, Clayton Cosgrove, says advertising that recommends people take party pills at work is socially irresponsible and highly dangerous.

The comment follows an advertisement for the party pill chain store, Herbal Heaven, in the Wellington community newspaper, the Capital Times. In the advertisement, the company states its staff can offer advice on the best benzylpiperazine (BZP) based pills for peoples' work requirements, and that people can find pills that suit them, for "work or play."

"I am staggered by the message this company, which has stores throughout the country including my electorate, is sending," says Mr Cosgrove. "Drug-impaired judgement in a work situation is dangerous and unacceptable, and there is an obvious potential for workplace accidents around machinery, on building sites and on the roads for example, if people are high on these pills."

Mr Cosgrove has today written to the Board of the Advertising Standards Authority asking it to consider the advertisement against its Ethics Principle 4, which states "All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society", and to Principle 3 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code which states "Advertisements must observe a high standard of social responsibility."

In December 2005 Mr Cosgrove presented a petition to the Associate Health Minister and Chair of the Committee on National Drug Policy, Hon Jim Anderton, regarding BZP-based pills, and communicated the message he had been clearly given by his local community and many others around New Zealand that these party pills are unfit for human consumption and should be banned.

"I agree with Jim Anderton that the scientific research currently underway on these pills must be completed before decisions are made on the legality of BZP," says Mr Cosgrove. "However this latest development brings these party pills into a whole new arena – the workplace – and I hope the Advertising Standards Authority acts on my complaint swiftly."

Mr Cosgrove also believes the advertisement breaches Section 43 of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2005, which prevents the advertising of BZP party pills. He has referred it to Mr Anderton to clarify its legality and direct it to the appropriate authorities.

Please find attached a copy of the advertisement and a copy of the letter Mr Cosgrove has written to the Board of the Advertising Standards Authority.

For further information on the Advertising Standards Authority refer to www.asa.co.nz

15 March 2006

The Secretary
Advertising Standards Complaints Board
PO Box 10-675

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write regarding an advertisement that appeared in Wellington community newspaper, "Capital Times", in the week of 1 – 7 March 2006. This advertisement is for the "Herbal Heaven" shop, which sells so-called party pills or herbal highs. Please find a copy of the advertisement enclosed.

My objection falls under both Principle 4 of the Advertising Code of Ethics, and Principle 3 of the Therapeutic Products Advertising Code, which respectively state:

"All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society."

"Advertisements must observe a high standard of social responsibility."

In this advertisement there are references to taking party pills at work, which I see as being socially irresponsible, and therefore non-compliant with the Principles referred to above. The advertisement states that: "They have helpful, friendly staff who can offer advice on what sort of herbal high is best for your body type, metabolism, work requirements or party needs" and "Herbal Heaven's pills are popular because people can find something that suits them, whether it be for work or play."

The advertisement also makes therapeutic claims when it refers to some of the pills as having "an energising, revitalising effect".

Thank you for looking into this complaint. I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Associate Minister of Justice


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