By Humphrey Carter

ONE in two teenagers does not believe designer drug use is a dangerous habit while the Balearics is the third biggest consumer of designer drugs in Spain. In the past ten years, designer drugs have killed 140 people in Spain, 38 were the victims of ecstasy, but still designer drug use continues to grow. The principal consumers are aged between 14 and 18 and six per cent of the country's teenage population has tried designer drugs while three per cent admit to being regular users and 54 per cent do not consider designer drugs dangerous substances. However, Holland, Belgium and the United Kingdom, where 33% of 16 to 19 year-olds have experimented with drugs and 5% are regular users of ecstasy, are Europe's leading designer drug consumers, followed by Spain. The most recent study of drug use in the Balearics revealed that Minorca accounts for the biggest users, followed by Ibiza and Majorca. Designer drug user habits in Spain are similar to the rest of Europe, with the majority of users taking the drugs on the weekend and with friends. 46 % of teenagers claim that they take the drugs for fun, 39.5% are in search of new sensations, and 23% to dance, according to the Spanish Drugs body. Gonzalo Robles, the government's delegate on the National Drugs Plan, said yesterday that although the level of designer drug use is still less than class A (heroin, cocaine) drug abuse in Spain, designer drugs are becoming increasingly more popular. Last year 1.430.000 ecstasies were seized in Spain. Robles said that apart from the immediate side-effects of ecstasy can be fatal, the long term consequences are extremely serious. He explained that there is a lost generation aged 24 to 25 in Spain which, after five years of designer drugs abuse, is now seeking medical and detoxification help. Robles said that youngsters need to be made more aware of the consequences and the authorities need to be more active in combating designer drug abuse. Europe's anti-drug forces are going to start working much closer together in a European-wide crackdown on drugs, dealers and manufacturers. The European Union has access to a rapid alert system which logs all new drugs found on the global market and provides suggestions as to how the police could best respond.