(LEAD) Gov't, ruling party vow to step up fight against drugs
(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 3-5, 8-9)
SEOUL, Oct. 26 (Yonhap) -- The government and the ruling People Power Party (PPP) pledged Wednesday to significantly bolster efforts to tackle ever-growing drug use, officials said.
The PPP and the government held a policy consultation meeting at the National Assembly and discussed various measures to prevent people from abusing substances and provide help to those suffering from drug addiction.
"Our party and the government will put in all-out efforts to completely eradicate drugs from people's daily lives and become a drug-free country once again," PPP's top policymaker Sung Il-jong said, noting that drug abuse and crimes have become a serious threat to society.
From January to August, a total of 12,233 people have been apprehended on drug charges, up 14.5 percent from the same period of last year, according to officials.
The number of teenage drug offenders jumped from 41 in 2011 to 450 in 2021.
Sung also called for a more advanced system to respond to evolving drug crimes and an improvement in social awareness on the matter.
"The prime minister's office will become a control tower to push for strong drug investigations at an interagency level, launch a information sharing system to respond to advancing drug distribution and strengthen addiction treatment and prevention education," policy coordination minister Bang Moon-kyu said.
The prosecution will operate a special task force against drug offenses for a year, while police, the coast guard and other related authorities will expand cooperation and their capacity to crack down on such crimes, officials said.
The government and the ruling party also agreed to push for legislation of a bill that stipulates doctors check a patient's prescription history of addictive medicinal drugs, such as fentanyl, before prescribing them.
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