Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, pictured, has released for public comment a draft law on substance and alcohol abuse.
Skweyiya said the passing of the Prevention of, and Treatment for, Substance Abuse Bill would help reduce drug abuse among South Africans, particularly children and teenagers.
"We continue to experience increased substance abuse.
"Of serious concern is that the age of first experimentation with substances has dropped to between nine and 10."
The legislation would promote community-based services, place greater emphasis on preventative services, and be more sensitive to the needs of children.
A 2004 survey indicated that 49percent of South African teenagers drink alcohol, 31percent smoke cigarettes and 13percent smoke dagga regularly. - Sapa