SINGAPORE - Nearly 70 per cent of new drug abusers arrested last year remain under 30 years old, according to latest numbers released by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) on Monday (Feb 15).
The amount of cannabis seized has also continued to increase, and it is now the second-most abused drug among new abusers after methamphetamine, or Ice.
The total number of drug abusers arrested rose 6 per cent to 3,338 last year, following a drop in 2014.
Among them, there were 20 per cent more new drug abusers arrested at 1,311, and new drug users below 20 rose by more than 50 per cent.
Young drug abusers have remained a majority among first-time offenders since around 2011.
The number of new drug abusers below 30 years old has also been rising since 2009, when 581 of them were arrested.
Last year, this number grew to 901, up from 750.
While the value of drugs seized last year rose by about 5 per cent to $8.56 million, CNB recovered 26 per cent more cannabis, a total of 44.29kg. This is more than double the 15.57kg seized in 2013.
Ice and heroin continue to be the drugs abused by over 90 per cent of arrested drug users, with Ice now the most abused drug.
This comes as the largest seizures of Ice were in East and South-east Asia, according to the 2015 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Some 88 tonnes of "ice" was recovered in 2013, up from 34 tonnes in 2009.
To "tackle the challenging regional drug situation", CNB conducted 11 joint operations with its foreign counterparts last year, it said.
Besides the increase in cannabis seized over the years, other drugs such as nimetazepam, subutex and new psychoactive substances (NPS) also grew last year.
The amount of subutex tablets recovered increased more than fifty-fold, while about 30 times more NPS, in weight, was seized.
"There are signs of increasingly tolerant attitudes towards drugs, particularly among older youths,"said CNB director Ng Ser Song. "Preventive drug education remains our first line of defence. We will continue our efforts to reach out to and educate our youths on the harmfulness of drugs and strengthen their resolve to stay drug-free."
In particular, he added, CNB plans to continue implementing the recommendations from the Task Force on Youths and Drugs to enhance outreach efforts to older youths.