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National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England - 2013

National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Regions, Country, Government Office Regions
Date Range:
01 Sep 2013 to 31 Dec 2013


Errata note: Following publication, an error was identified in Table 2.7b: Proportion of girls who have taken individual drugs in the last year, by age. The percentage figure for 12 year old girls who have taken heroin in the last year has been amended from 0 per cent to 0.2 per cent. As a consequence of this change, the corresponding percentage figure for any opiates has also been amended from 0 per cent to 0.2 per cent in the same table.

This report contains results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15). 5,187 pupils in 174 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2013.

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 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. Since 2000, the remainder of the survey questions have focused in alternate years on smoking and drinking or on drug use. The emphasis of the 2013 survey was on drugs.

The survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs. It presents information on the prevalence, frequency and type of drug use by pupils. The report includes information about how much alcohol school pupils consume and how many cigarettes they smoke. The report also describes the attitudes of pupils towards smoking, drinking and taking drugs.


  • The prevalence of illegal drug use in 2013 was at similar levels to 2011 and 2012, though considerably lower than in 2001, when the current method of measurement was first used. 16 per cent of pupils had ever taken drugs, 11 per cent had taken them in the last year and 6 per cent in the last month.
  • In 2013, less than a quarter of pupils said that they had smoked at least once. At 22 per cent, this was the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 1982, and continues the decline since 2003, when 42 per cent of pupils had tried smoking.
  • 3 per cent of pupils in 2013 reported that they smoked at least one cigarette a week compared to 9 per cent in 2003.
  • In 2013, around two-fifths of pupils (39 per cent) had drunk alcohol at least once. Boys and girls were equally likely to have done so. The proportion of pupils who have had an alcoholic drink increased with age from 6 per cent of 11 year olds to 72 per cent of 15 year olds.
  • In 2013, 9 per cent of pupils had drunk alcohol in the last week, compared to 25 per cent in 2003.
  • More than half (53 per cent) of pupils thought it was OK for someone of their age to try drinking alcohol, and about a third (31 per cent) thought that it was OK to try smoking. Pupils were much less likely to approve of drug use: 9 per cent thought it was OK for someone to try cannabis, 7 per cent sniffing glue, and just 2 per cent thought that it was OK for someone their age to try cocaine.


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Last edited: 15 September 2020 9:25 am