Blanket ban on legal highs will ‘do little’ suggests charity research

The Big Ban Theory

The Big Ban Theory - Credit: Archant

A newly-imposed blanket ban on legal highs will do little to reduce harm on young people’s lives, suggests new research.

The Big Ban Theory report, conducted by YMCA, says the new Psychoactive Substances Act must go further than prohibition.

It also states it should be supplemented with impartial information, advice and specialist support.

Findings from the national report come from a survey of 1,005 16 to 24-year-olds from England and Wales, half of whom had taken legal highs, and a range of focus groups.

Jonathan Martin, CEO of YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, said: “Nationally, YMCA welcomes Government action on legal highs. However, this research has uncovered strong evidence to suggest the new Psychoactive Substances Act will not achieve what is necessary.

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“The ban is likely to have some success in reducing the numbers of young people taking these substances, however, we believe it wll do little to address the hidden, darker side to legal highs.

“What YMCA has discovered is that many young people, including those who are highly entrenched in their addiction to substances such as Spice, are likely to be unperturbed by this change in the law.

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“Unless the act is backed up with changes to the education and support currently available, YMCA’s national evidence suggests that these young people and more will continue to experience harm at the hands of legal highs for years to come.”

YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough’s services include accommodation, health and wellbeing, training and education, family work, support and advice.

To read the report visit

The findings include:

• Of those young people who currently take legal highs, 64 per cent say they would be likely to use them in the future

• 57 per cent of young people first start taking legal highs between the ages of 16 and 18-years-old

• Of young people who have ever used legal highs, 94 per cent have friends who have also used them

• 68 per cent of those who have taken legal highs name Laughing Gas as the substance they take most commonly

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