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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England - 2006

Official statistics, National statistics, Survey
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Date Range:
01 Jan 2006 to 31 Dec 2006


This report contains in depth results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils aged 11 to 15. 8,200 pupils in 288 schools in England completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2006. The survey monitors drug use, smoking and drinking and also investigates factors related to these behaviours. The full report follows on from the headline results of the 2006 survey which were published in March 2007.

The National Centre for Social Research and the National Foundation for Educational Research carried out the survey for The Information Centre for health and social care and Home Office. This is the most recent survey in a series that began in 1982. Each survey since 1998 has included a core section of questions on smoking, drinking and drug use and, since 2000, the remainder of the questionnaire has focused in alternate years on smoking and drinking or on drug taking. The emphasis of the 2006 survey is on smoking and drinking.

Key Facts

For pupils aged 11 to 15 in England, 2006:

  • pupils are more likely to have ever drunk alcohol (55 per cent), than to have smoked (39 per cent) or tried drugs (24 per cent)
  • around a quarter (27 per cent) of pupils in this age group had recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs. Very few pupils (four per cent) had done all three of these recently.


  • two fifths (39 per cent) of pupils reported having tried smoking at least once. Sixty one per cent reporting they had never smoked in 2006. The proportion of pupils who have never smoked had risen to 61 per cent in 2004, and has remained at a similar level since
  • nine per cent were regular smokers (smoked at least once a week), a proportion which has remained unchanged since 2003
  • following the trend found in previous years, girls were more likely than boys to be regular smokers. Older pupils were more likely to be regular smokers than younger pupils
  • about two thirds (65 per cent) of pupils who smoked identified shops as one of their usual sources of cigarettes.


  • over half (55 per cent) of pupils had drunk at least one alcoholic drink in their lifetimes, while 45 per cent said they had never had a proper alcoholic drink. The proportion who have never drunk alcohol has risen since 2003 (39 per cent)
  • one in five (21 per cent) drank alcohol in the previous week, maintaining the decline in the prevalence of drinking recorded in recent years. Girls and boys were equally likely to have drunk alcohol in the last seven days. However, boys tended to drink more than girls, the average consumption of boys who had drunk in the last seven days was 12.3 units compared to 10.5 for girls
  • the average weekly consumption among pupils who drank in the last week has almost doubled from 5.3 units in 1990 to 10.4 units in 2000, and has remained around this level since then, showing no clear pattern, and was 11.4 units in 2006
  • on average, pupils who drank in the last week, drank alcohol on 1.8 days. About half of these pupils (49 per cent) consumed an average of more than four units on the days they drank.

Drug use

  • 35 per cent of pupils reported that they had ever been offered drugs, a decrease from 42 per cent in 2001. 24 per cent of pupils said that they had ever used drugs
  • 17 per cent reported that they had taken drugs in the last year, an overall decrease from 2001 (20 per cent)
  • nine per cent had taken drugs in the last month, also lower than the proportion who had done so in 2001 (12 per cent)
  • the proportion who took Class A drugs in the last year was four per cent, unchanged since 2001
  • pupils were most likely to have taken cannabis; 10 per cent had done so in the last year, an overall decrease from 13 per cent in 2001.


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Last edited: 11 April 2018 5:20 pm