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Ecstasy Deaths Overemphasised, Says Leading UK Drug Doctor

Author: Jonty Adderley
Sunday, January 27, 2002
Ecstasy deaths "get far more publicity than they're worth," leading drug toxicologist Dr John Henry said this week, though warned that "some people will always still die."

"Given that half a million people use the drug (in the UK) the great majority experience no problems," Dr Henry told the Observer.

Dr Henry remains one of Britain's least tolerant drug experts (even once being ridiculed by Ali G on his TV show) so his views carry unusual weight and significance.

In the same article, harm minimisation campaigner Mat Southwell from the Dance Drugs Alliance agreed with the doctor's conclusion, pointing out "research shows the chance of dying each time you take ecstasy is one in a million- that's the same as downhill skiing."

Data from the NSAA (National Ski Areas Association), in fact, reveals that average skiing death rates (US) are 34 people a year with 47 deaths in 2000 (slightly lower than 1 death per million) though clearly if harm reduction precautions were removed from ski slopes, fatalities would rise dramatically. Most skiing death victims also tend to be young males in their late teens or 20s, who are typically "better than average skiers who are skiing at high rates of speed on the margins of intermediate trails."

Other recreational activities like scuba diving and swimming cause even more deaths each year, with 109 people dying in scuba diving accidents in 1999 and 2,000 dying while swimming. (National Ski Areas Association) (Ecstasy death rate information)