The National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC) from this month will be conducting a nationwide Public Consultation on the Draft Volatile Substance Abuse Decree (DVSAD). The Draft Decree aims to control the sale and supply of volatile substancesand the protection of children from any harm resulting from volatile substance abuse and related purposes.

The DVSAD was instigated as a result of the rapid increase in volatile substance abuse cases highlighted in the School Confidential Report, the Schools Information Management System (SIMS) and the Fiji Police Force Statistics.

In early 2010 Director NSAAC Mr. Misaele Driubalavu discovered that there was no legislation against the selling, buying, processing, using or sniffing of volatile substances and a proposal paper as well as a Cabinet paper was drafted.  By August of 2010 Cabinet approved the drafting of a legislation to control the sale of or supply of substances that can be abused by children and provide enforcement measures.

Internet Research showed that both Western Australia and the Northern Territory of Australia have enacted separate legislations on solvents which is separate from illicit drugs and licit drugs.

Section 206 of the Western Australia Criminal Code states: “A person who sells or supplies an intoxicant to another person in circumstances where the person knows, or where it is reasonable to suspect, that that or another person will use it to become intoxicated is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for 12 months and a fine of $12,000.”

According to the SIMS, it showed an increase in inhalant abuse cases by our students. In 2006 SIMS reported only six cases, while a year later it jumped to 30 and in the latest stats of 2011 there was a total of 212 reported inhalant cases.

Medical experts confirm that the consumption and or inhaling of volatile substance have very serious health effects. For example the glue contains toluene, butane, hexane and lead; when sniffed and abused it can cause giddiness, nauseas, slurred speech, vomiting, hallucination, nose bleeding, shortness of breath, cardiac or respiratory arrest and in the worst case scenario death.

“It would therefore be prudent to have a law that can safeguard the wellbeing and health of our children,” said Mr. Driubalavu.

Section 5 of the DVSAD states:

(1)    A person must not –

(a)   Sell or supply any volatile substance to a child or

(b)   purchase a volatile substance for the use of a child

(2)    A person who sells or supplies a volatile substance to a child in circumstances where it is reasonable to suspect that child may inhale it or use it to become intoxicated commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

Under the DVSAD a volatile substance includes: plastic solvent, adhesive cement, cleaning agent, glue, nail polish remover, lighter fluid, petrol or any other volatile product derived from petroleum, paint thinner, lacquer thinner, aerosol propellant and anesthetic gas.

“These are some household items that we have identified that have very serious side effects if not used for its intended purposes. Note this decree is not here to band these substances but to try and control its sales,” said Mr. Driubalavu.

The Public Consultation of the DVSAD will be open to all members of the public especially retailers who wish to voice the opinion and ideas on the decree.


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