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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England - 2012

National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Regions, Country, Government Office Regions
Date Range:
03 Sep 2012 to 31 Dec 2012


This report contains results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15). 7,589 pupils in 254 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2012.

NatCen Social Research (NatCen) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) carried out the survey on behalf of the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).  The Home Office and the Department for Education also have an interest in the statistics.  This is the most recent survey in a series that began in 1982.  Each survey since 1998 has included a core set of questions on smoking, drinking and drug use and, since 2000 the remainder of the questions have focused in alternate years on smoking and drinking or on drug use.  The emphasis of the 2012 survey is on smoking and drinking whilst still containing some information on drugs.

The survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs. The report also explores the attitudes of school children towards smoking and drinking. Relationships between smoking, drinking and drug use are explored along with the links between smoking, drinking and drug use and other factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and previous truancy or exclusion.

Regional data (combined for 2011 and 2012) have been included for key estimates of smoking, drinking and drug use among young people.


  • There has been a long-term decline in the prevalence of smoking since the mid-1990s. In 2012, less than a quarter (23 per cent) of pupils had tried smoking at least once. In 1996, nearly half (49 per cent) of 11 to 15 year olds had done so.
  • Less than half of pupils (43 per cent) have ever drunk alcohol. Boys and girls were equally likely to have done so. The proportion of pupils who have had an alcoholic drink increased from 12 per cent of 11 year olds to 74 per cent of 15 year olds.
  • In 2012, the prevalence of illegal drug use was at its lowest since 2001, when the current method of measurement was first used. 17 per cent of pupils had ever taken drugs, 12 per cent had taken them in the last year and 6 per cent in the last month.
  • Around half (52 per cent) of pupils aged between 11 and 15 said that they had tried smoking, drunk alcohol or taken drugs at least once in their lives. 17 per cent had done one or more of these recently.


Last edited: 11 April 2018 5:20 pm