Skip to main content
National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England - 2014

National statistics
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Regions, Country, Government Office Regions
Date Range:
01 Sep 2014 to 31 Dec 2014


This report contains results from an annual survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15). 6,173 pupils in 210 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2014.

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 2014 survey was 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.

New areas included in the survey for the first time were e-cigarettes, waterpipe tobacco, legal highs and energy drinks.


  • In 2014, less than one in five 11 to 15 year olds (18 per cent) said that they had smoked at least once. 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.
  • Over a fifth (22 per cent) of pupils had used e-cigarettes at least once. This included most pupils who smoked cigarettes regularly (89 per cent). E-cigarette use was considerably lower among pupils who had never smoked (11 per cent).
  • One in ten (10 per cent) of pupils had used water pipe tobacco at least once.
  • In 2014, 38 per cent of 11 to 15 year olds had tried alcohol at least once, the lowest proportion since the survey began.
  • 6 per cent of pupils said that they sometimes or always drank energy drinks at the same time as they drank alcohol.
  • The prevalence of drug use among 11 to 15 year olds in England declined between 2001 and 2010. Since then the decline has slowed. In 2014, 15 per cent of pupils had ever taken drugs, 10 per cent had taken drugs in the last year, and 6 per cent had taken drugs in the last month.
  • The estimates from this survey indicate that in England in 2014 around 90,000 pupils aged between 11 and 15 were regular smokers, around 240,000 had drunk alcohol in the past week, 180,000 had taken drugs in the last month, and 310,000 had taken drugs in the last year.

Error Notification to Users

On 10/08/16, corrections were made to tables 3.6, 3.21, 3.22, 3.30, 5.18b, 5.19, 5.20 and 8.8.  Some changes affected the base sizes only and those which affected percentages ranged between 1 and 5 percentage points.  Relevant changes were also made to the report where these figures were commented on.  Note that only figures for 2014 were affected and the HSCIC apologises for any inconvenience caused.

On 22/10/2015, the figures for the proportion of children who have taken drugs in the last month excluding volatile substances in tables 8.4 and 8.5 was corrected.  HSCIC apologises for any inconvenience caused.



Related Links

Last edited: 16 September 2020 12:31 pm