There’s not enough evidence to say it’s as easy to buy drugs as pizza in the UK
10 March 2020
What was claimed
A government review warns it is almost as easy to buy some drugs as it is to buy pizza.
There is not enough evidence for this claim, which does not appear in the review itself. The Global Drug Survey compared delivery times of cocaine and pizza internationally in 2018 and found 30% of people could get cocaine in under 30 minutes while only 16.5% of people said they could get a pizza delivered in that time. Figures to make this comparison for the UK aren’t available.
“Drugs are so widely available they are as easy to buy as pizzas, reveals government review.”
Dame Carol confirmed to Full Fact that she was referring to the comparative delivery times of pizza and drugs, both of which she said can be delivered in around 30 minutes.
After asking for clarification on where this data came from, Full Fact was pointed to a study into crack cocaine use, published in March last year by the Home Office and Public Health England, which interviewed drug treatment workers, service users and police officers.
The study said these groups all agreed crack was “more widely available” now than it had been in the past and described the fast delivery as “quicker than a pizza”, although it seems based on anecdotal evidence and made no mention of 30 minutes delivery time.
Data on the relative delivery times of cocaine and pizza orders has previously been collected by the Global Drug Survey.
The survey most recently collected this data in 2018, when it asked 15,000 cocaine users around the world whether they could get cocaine delivered in under 30 minutes, and whether they could get a pizza delivered in the same time. This sounds similar to the figures provided to us by Dame Carol, but they don’t break down to a UK-only level.
The global results revealed 30% could get cocaine in 30 minutes or less, while just 16.5% said the same about pizza. In the UK, 83% of respondents said they could get cocaine on the day it was ordered, with 37% saying it would be delivered in 30 minutes or less. However, the survey did not break down pizza delivery-time by country, so no specific UK comparison can be done. We’ve looked at this before.
The 2019 Global Drug Survey found that, internationally, 61.7% of cocaine-using participants had cocaine delivered on the same day and 30% of those reported waiting no more than 30 minutes, but it did not collect data on pizza.
The report said: “We also look at speed for delivery and update our work from last year – though we won’t be mentioning pizzas for a while.”
Professor Adam Winstock, founder and CEO of the Global Drug Survey, told Full Fact the organisation had decided not to compare to pizza again as there are “other things to focus on that we consider more important than pizza to address our primary mission of reducing drug-related harm—more important than pizza headlines.”
No other comparisons between pizza and drug delivery have been done that we’re aware of. Without any updated figures, or specific break-downs about pizza delivery time in the UK, there is not enough evidence to show that it is as easy to get some drugs as it is to get pizza.
You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.
We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.
The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.
Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not. Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?