EDUCATION is as important as punishment to tackle the scourge of mephedrone, say teachers and councillors.

As Home Secretary Alan Johnson began moves to ban mephedrone after the official drugs watchdog recommended it be made a class B drug, calls were made to ensure youngsters were educated about its dangers.

Kevin Deadman, head teacher at Canon Lee School, said: “I am very pleased that the Government is now looking to ban mephedrone, as it is not helpful that children can feel they can take something because it is not illegal and we have seen the impact that has had on young people nationally.

“However, education into this drug is critical. All of us – teachers, parents and partner agencies – all have a part to play to make young people aware of this issue and the dangers it carries.”

City of York Council’s children and young people’s champion, Coun James Alexander, said: “It is good news that the Home Secretary has agreed to ban mephedrone as a class B drug.

“Such a drug has blighted many people’s lives and predominantly young people’s.

“My concern is now regarding how this drug will be treated at class B. Mephedrone will be treated legally like amphetamines or cannabis, but in reality cannabis is heavily tolerated.

“We must ensure that mephedrone is never so widely accepted. We also need better education in schools regarding dangerous drugs and the consequences of the choices some young people make when they choose to take them.

“Some young people believe their friends with first-hand experiences of drugs above medical knowledge, and this leads to some young people making bad decisions regarding drugs with both health and dependency consequences.”

Nick Seaton, of the Campaign For Real Education, said: “It is vital all young people are educated, so they know about the dangers of the substance and know to avoid it at all costs to prevent further harm to families.”

The Press handed in its Menace Of Mephedrone petition to 10 Downing Street on Monday, only hours before the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended to ministers it should be made a Class B drug.

Those found being in possession of the substance will face up to five years in jail, and dealers up to 14 years.