Before I came to Lanzhou, I had read two pretty depressing accounts of the place, both in Time magazine, which my dad used to post to me.
The first concerned pollution, the second drugs. I've travelled to the Dongxiang area south of Lanzhou several times, and am always reminded of the article.
Well, it certainly explains why you come across anti-drugs posters in the Hui muslim communities around Lanzhou (although the article claims that the addicts are mostly Han Chinese). Here is a selection.
"One person takes drugs and disaster befalls everyone"
The large character in the background is 毒 (dú), meaning drugs, and the smaller message on the right reads "yourself, family, community":
"Treasure your life: stay away from drugs"
The smaller message on the top right reads "For a happy life, under no circumstances get into drugs":
"Trying it once can destroy your life"
The person in the picture is holding 海洛因 (hăiluòyīn), meaning heroin:
"Save yourself from addiction"
A very loose translation of this pun, based on a Buddhist saying "苦海无边，回头是岸", meaning "On the endless sea of suffering, repent and be saved [lit. you can see the shore if you turn around]." The first character 苦 (kŭ) has been replaced by 毒 (dú) on the poster (the two words also sound alike). So, to translate more closely, the slogan on the poster could also be "On the endless sea of drugs, repent and be saved." Note also the 毒 in the background, which represents a grave, into which the addict is about to topple:
"Mobilize and participate in the people's anti-drugs campaign"
In the picture, poppies are being "eradicated":
"Don't let drugs into our homes":
The figures in the picture can often be seen on the door frames of people's homes (especially in the countryside), as a 'protect this house' gesture:
"Drugs will be taken seriously: traffickers will be punished, manufacturers will be investigated, and users will be warned."
The photo shows the "consequences":