Less young people are experimenting with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, survey finds

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24th July 2015 16:46 - Health

A recent survey of more than 6,000 pupils from 210 English schools has discovered that more children have tried e-cigarettes than normal Less young people are experimenting with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, survey findstobacco-based cigarettes, with the number of young people having experimented with alcohol, cigarettes and drugs being at the lowest recorded level.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre’s recent figures revealed that the number of young people consuming alcohol has dropped to the lowest level it’s ever been, with just 38 per cent of children aged between 11 and 15 having ever tried it.

The number of children who had tried smoking was also revealed to be at the lowest rate it’s been since the annual survey began in 1982. In 2003, 42 per cent of children had tried alcohol, however, this figure has significantly dropped since then.

Last year (2014), 15 per cent of the pupils questioned said that they had tried drugs at least once in their life and 10 per cent said that they had tried drugs in the last year.

The Health and Social Care Information Center said that despite the number of children trying drugs declining, the rate of decline had slowed in the last 5 years, since 2010.

The 2015 survey was the very first to contain questions about e-cigarettes, and discovered that 22 per cent of the children in the survey have tried them. Of this percentage, 89 per cent were regular smokers.

As well as e-cigarettes, the survey also asked the children about their usage of shisha pipes and discovered that 1 in 10 had experimented with them at least once.

Legal highs and energy drinks were also featured on this year’s survey for the first time. Of the pupils, 6 per cent said that they either always or sometimes drink energy drinks with alcohol.

51 per cent of the pupils said that they had heard of legal highs and 6 per cent said that they had been offered them, although, the level of usage was fairly low, at just 3 per cent.

The Health and Social Care Information Center noted that some 90,000 pupils were regular smokers and 240,000 had consumed alcohol in the week of the survey. As well as these figures, 180,000 said that they had taken drugs in the last month and 310,000 have taken drugs in the last year.

The CEO of health charity, Ash, said of the findings:

"These results are entirely consistent with other British surveys showing that regular use of e-cigarettes among teenagers is tiny and is confined to those who are already regular smokers.

"They do not support the idea that experimentation with electronic cigarettes is a gateway into smoking as the number of young people trying smoking continues to decline year on year.

"The results of this survey are invaluable.

"It's very worrying that the survey was cancelled in 2015 and we call on the Government to reinstate it from 2016 onwards."

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