asked the Minister for Health the number of persons who died as a result of solvent abuse during 1988; the average age of the victims; the progress which has been made to date in preparing the promised education campaign of the dangers of solvent abuse; the amount of money which has been allocated for this purpose in the 1989 Estimates; when the campaign will begin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Written Answers. - Solvent Abuse Dangers.
My Department are aware of nine deaths in 1988 in Ireland that were caused by the abuse of solvents with most of these deaths occurring among 14 and 15 year olds.
The Child Care Bill, 1988, contains a section which imposes restrictions on the sale of solvents to persons under 18 years but the best and most effective long term answer to the problem of solvent abuse is to create an increased awareness of the dangers of the practice. However any information campaign must be conscious of the dangers of arousing children's interest and prompting experimentation that might not otherwise take place.
With this in mind the Health Promotion Unit has prepared an information programme which will focus on the role of traders and of parents and those who work with young people. The programme, which has been prepared in consultation with the various professional and trade associations will consist of an information booklet for parents and professionals and an additional information leaflet for retailers. The booklet and information leaflet are being printed at present and should be available for distribution within a couple of weeks. I have provided £10,000 towards the production cost of these materials.