I think there is a marked difference between attributing blame and responsibility, and issuing a safety warning.
If we can look at a less contentious example, because honestly I can't be arsed trying to couch everything I say with caveats like "even though they don't deserve it" because that should be self-evident (even though I appreciate that's not always the case... see, I'm doing it again) - let's consider the signs that tell you to lock up your valuables.
I don't look at a sign saying "thieves operate in this area, be sure to lock your valuables/car/whatever" and say "hey fuck you, i'm the victim here." I don't consider that I am to blame for the fact there are thieves out there eyeing up my shit. I don't think the signs are trying to say that. There is no subtext to those signs. But I take note of the signs, and lock up my shit. Do you view those signs the same way you do the ALAC ad?
For the record, I'm not being facetious here. I think this is a completely analogous example.
Is there an acceptable way of communicating this sort of risk in a public health context?
I'm not trying to be glib here, but looking at ALAC's vile 'Lisa' ad (which has been discussed at length on PAS) and doing anything else is a good place to start. I know it was meant to be "provocative", but it only worked in the same sense that Michael Laws is -- ie not a useful contribution to any discussion worth having.
I liked your article, Damian. It was wellwritten and covers an area of the drug biz that isn't talked about a lot. I don't agree with their lifestyles but I appreciated the dealers' honesty about how hard it is, when you're struggling, not to go back to it. Crimes does pay, just not in a long term way, obviously.
As for alcohol - I agree that perhaps they should have the age at 20 for buying from an outlet, and 18 for consumption in licensed premises. I do remember having my 18th birthday at the Kiwi Tavern on the corner of Symonds and Wellesley Sts and it seemed stupid at the time. I didn't drink but my mates did, and so we were all completely illegal. But then that was the Kiwi - it specialised in alcoholic bartenders and serving under-21's.
Thanks Jackie! Honestly, I was a little let down by the illustrations - I think they're great in and of themselves, but they absolutely reinforce the cliches I was trying to get away from in the article - evil pushers with rotten yellow teeth, thrusting drugs in your face...
On the booze thing, the commission initially supported a split age, but then after a bit more thought decided there wasn't enough evidence to suggest that getting drunk in a bar is any better than getting drunk at home. I for one have gotten into some absolute states in bars, where the next morning I can't believe I kept on being served. And there's always friends to buy a round when you can't...