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Drive to curb teenage solvent abuse

 MORE teenagers in Northern Ireland die from solvent abuse than from taking other illegal hard drugs such as Ecstasy and cocaine.

The shocking findings were revealed by the Health Promotion Agency, who today launched an initiative aimed at informing shopkeepers across Ulster of the legislation surrounding the sale of solvents to under 18s.

Starting today, retailers here will be receiving information in a bid to halt the number of deaths from solvent abuse here.

The initiative was today launched by the Health Promotion Agency, who revealed that sniffing glue and other solvents kills more teenagers in Ulster than any other illegal drugs.

According to the agency, there have been 76 deaths related to solvent abuse since 1971 - four of which took place in 2001.

And is also emerged that more teenagers abuse solvents in Northern Ireland than any other region of the UK.

Starting from today, an information pack produced by the agency will be distributed to retailers across Northern Ireland throughout the various district and borough councils.

The pack includes a guide for retailers on the legislation surrounding the sale of solvents as well as display material highlighting the law and warning solvent abuse can kill.

The law states that shopkeepers cannot sell butane gas lighter refills - or any other product they feel can be used by teenagers to get high - to under 18s.

The penalty for breaking this law can result in a $5,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

Maureen Gardner, from the Health Promotion Agency, said: "This latest initiative involves supporting retailers in refusing to sell solvents to young people and also aims to make them aware of the legislation surrounding the sale of solvents.

"By controlling the sale of these products, it will be more difficult for young people to obtain them and in turn will help prevent them from misusing solvents."