Trading standards officers are warning about the dangers of using the drug 2.4 Dinitrophenol for weight loss and bodybuilding in a campaign aimed at students.
They are handing out beer mats with the message Would you play Russian Roulette with DNP? and talking to students at campuses in Surrey to raise awareness of the dangers of the drug, also known as DNP.
The product is illegally marketed online as a diet pill and a bodybuilding aid and its effects on the body can be extremely damaging, resulting in some cases in coma or even death.
The campaign by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards*, which is also targeting young people via social media, comes in the wake of a rise in the number of deaths nationally from DNP poisoning in the past five years.
They include student Sarmad Alladin, who died in 2013 after taking DNP. Sarmad, who attended the specialist University for the Creative Arts, in Epsom, was a fitness enthusiast.
Government figures show that more than 30 serious cases of DNP poisoning were referred to the National Poisons Information Service between January and September this year, five of which were fatal.
Trading Standards Officer Donna Ward, leading the campaign, said the sale and supply of DNP for consumption was illegal. ‘DNP is most definitely unsafe for human consumption, yet it is clear that it’s being sold illegally, mainly online, as an aid to help with weight loss,’ she said.
‘Our aim is to reach the young people – many of them students – who are most at risk of being tempted to use DNP, with the message that this is a potential killer.’
Richard Walsh, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Localities and Community Wellbeing, said: ‘Our priority is to help people stay safe which is why we are highlighting the dangers of this potentially deadly drug. Students are among those most at risk of being drawn into taking DNP and we want to warn off as many as possible.’
* Buckinghamshire and Surrey operate a joint trading standards service