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SMART moves in East Asia


SMART 2009

Bangkok (Thailand), 30 July 2009 - Regional law enforcement officers and forensic scientists responsible for countering amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) production and trafficking met in Bangkok this week for a three-day sensitization programme aimed at gathering, analyzing and sharing information on ATS in East and Southeast Asia. The event, organized by UNODC under the Global SMART programme will last from 29-31 July.

The acronym SMART stands for Synthetics Monitoring: Analyses, Reporting and Trends. The SMART Programme will work with the governments in the region to improve their ability to respond to the law enforcement and public health challenges posed by ATS.

The three-day workshop culminated in the identification of concrete steps for the immediate future, to address the challenges posed by synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs have become the tonic for fast and competitive times and the global market for these is growing. Currently, this market is estimated at approximately $65 billion globally. Almost one-half of the world's ATS users live in Asia - most of these are methamphetamine users in East and Southeast Asia. According to the UNODC World Drug Report, 56% of seizures of methamphetamine occur in East and Southeast Asia.

ATS pose new challenges because of their availability, affordability and malleability to rapid shifts in the new markets. In many regions of the world, including East and Southeast Asia, factors such as the huge population and increasing affluence are driving the demand for these drugs. On the supply side, the attraction stems from the fact that with little initial investment, industrial-scale factories can make huge profits by manufacturing millions of tablets. The producers and suppliers make use of the gaps in existing systems and adapt quickly to the latest trends, and cater to local markets.

In order to respond to the problem, it is necessary to first understand the extent, nature and patterns. For this reason, the event brought together stakeholders from 10 countries in the region - Brunei, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The SMART programme will ultimately be extended to all regions facing an ATS problem. The initial phase of the Programme has been funded by Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and Thailand.

The summary report of the regional workshop can be downloaded here: Final Report