Foil rules for services come into force

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Legislation has come into force this month allowing services to provide aluminium foil ‘for the purpose of smoking drugs’, with a new briefing from Public Health England (PHE) explaining the new rules and providing advice on their implementation.

The aim of the legislation is to reduce injecting-related harms, with the condition that foil be supplied ‘in the context of structured steps either to engage people in a treatment plan or as part of a treatment plan’.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) previously advised the government that ‘the balance of benefit’ from providing foil favoured exempting it from Section 9A of the Misuse of Drugs Act – which relates to the prohibition of supply of ‘articles for administering or preparing controlled drugs’ – with the home secretary announcing last year that the government had accepted its advice (DDN, August 2013, page 4).

Provision of foil with be monitored via new fields added to the Needle Exchange Monitoring System (NEXMS), along with a series of interviews with service providers to be carried out next year. The PHE briefing urges services to make sure staff are ‘aware of the respiratory complications of smoking from foil’ and able to provide advice, as well as address concerns around issues such as ‘drug smoking’s lesser effectiveness and increased cost’.

Aluminium foil for smoking drugs: a briefing for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs at www.gov.uk