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#Neknominate needs health warnings on Twitter and Facebook, say councils

Alcohol UnitsThe Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales, is urging Facebook and Twitter to post prominent messages on their sites, spelling out the risks. These could be along the lines of the shock cautions emblazoned on cigarette packets, it suggests.

The call comes after social media users have filmed themselves consuming vast amounts of strong alcohol along with dog food, motor oil, mice and even live grasshoppers as part of the craze. They then post the footage online and nominate their friends on social media to repeat the ‘dare’. NekNomination has so far believed to have claimed five lives in the UK.

Councils across the country are launching internet safety campaigns providing links for parents, carers and young people who use the internet, and offering advice and support over alcohol-related issues. NekNomination warning notices have been requested by schools so they can be put up on notice boards and read out at assemblies.

Cllr Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing board, said:

“This is an utterly reckless and totally irresponsible craze which has tragically claimed lives. More should be done to highlight the dangers and persuade people not to participate.

“We believe social media operators have a responsibility to provide health warnings to user groups and individuals.

“The LGA is looking for these corporations to show leadership ­and not ignore what is happening on their sites. We are urging Facebook and Twitter executives to sit down with us and discuss a way forward which tackles this issue head on.

“NekNomination is at the extreme end of a very long wedge. Each year, there are over 1.2 million alcohol-related hospital admissions, over 8000 deaths and 17 million working days are lost. The annual cost to the NHS is £3.5 billion. A quarter of acute male admissions to hospital are alcohol induced.”

Case studies:

Boston Borough Council, Lincs, are encouraging NekNominees to contact their community safety team. Main secondary schools are posting warning notices up and mentioning it in school assemblies.
Sevenoaks District Council is launching an internet safety campaign to provide links and advice for parents, carers and young people who use the web
Worcestershire County Council has called for people not to participate. Alcohol related illness cost Worcestershire’s NHS more than £25 million and about 60 people die every year in Worcestershire where alcohol is a contributing factor.
Warwickshire County Council are working with substance misuse services Compass and The Recovery Partnership. The number of clients in effective drug treatment in Warwickshire for 2012/13 was 1,096 in total. According to the local VFM tool for 2012/13, for every £1 spent on effective local treatment in Warwickshire, £3.23 was gained in benefits.

Email: drugactionteam@warwickshire.gov.uk to get in touch.

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