“You Only Live Once” (YOLO) has become the Hong Kong Police Force’s latest attempt to get youngsters not to take drugs.

As part of their Anti-Drugs Month campaign, the force sent a virtual reality promotional truck around the city so Hongkongers can “experience the harmful hallucinations of drug abuse.”

YOLO anti drug
Hong Kong police’s anti-drug campaign using “YOLO” as one of its slogans. Photo: Stand News.

“If you want to find out what ketamine, cannabis, ice or cocaine smells like… you should come and visit the truck!” the police’s website read.

However, netizens were quick to point out the irony in the police message, as according to the Cambridge Dictionary, YOLO “means you should do things that are enjoyable or exciting, even if they are silly or slightly dangerous.”

The phrase, popular among youngers on social media, is a call to live life to the fullest and seize the day.

“Are they indirectly encouraging [people to] take drugs?” A netizen commented on LIHKG, a popular online forum in Hong Kong.

“Can they not screw up for once?” Another comment read.

Ronaldo meme

The police also used famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo as part of their campaign, and said that the footballer “was also really angry when he saw drugs,” and would like to remind people to reject illegal substances.

The post came after Ronaldo told journalists to drink water and placing two bottles of Coca-Cola out of sight in a press conference for Portugal’s Euro 2020 opening game.

On Monday, police said they had seized over HK$50 million worth of cannabis, ketamine, cocaine, heroin and ice and made 184 arrests in an effort to tackle illegal drugs ahead of summer.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.