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National Statistics
Publication

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 [NS]

This is part of

National statistics
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
England
Geographical granularity:
Regions
Date range:
01 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018

Part 11: Multiple behaviours

In previous parts of this report, smoking, drinking and different types of drug use have been examined independently of one another. This part looks at the relationships between these behaviours, by comparing prevalence rates and examining overlaps. This part also compares attitudes towards smoking, drinking and drug use.

Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and taking drugs all pose significant individual health risks to young people. However, those who engage in more than one of these expose themselves to an increased level of risk1.

To recap from earlier parts: 

  • 16% of pupils had ever smoked. 2% were regular smokers, equivalent to around 67 thousand young people2 (confidence interval 56 thousand – 79 thousand). 
  • 44% had ever drunk alcohol. 10% had drunk alcohol in the last week, equivalent to around 320 thousand young people (confidence interval 284 thousand – 356 thousand).
  • 24% had ever taken drugs. 9% had taken drugs in the last month, equivalent to around 300 thousand young people (confidence interval 271 thousand – 329 thousand)

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1. British Medical Association, Board of Science and Education, London (2003): Adolescent Health,

2. Based on Office for National Statistics mid-year 2018 population estimates for 11 to 15 year olds in England. 

 

Smoking, drinking or drug use prevalence

Ever smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

56% of pupils said that they had smoked, drunk alcohol or tried drugs on at least one occasion.

The likelihood of pupils having ever smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs increased with age, from 24% of 11 year olds to 79% of 15 year olds.

Chart showing proportion of pupils who have ever smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

 

Recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

'Recently’ indicates smoking or drinking in the last week, or drug use in the last month.

20% of pupils said that they had recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs.

The likelihood of pupils having recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs increased with age, from 5% of 11 year olds to 39% of 15 year olds.

Chart showing proportion of pupils who have recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

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For more data relating to this section:

 

 

Overlapping behaviour

Overlapping behaviour of having recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

2% of pupils had recently smoked, drunk alcohol and taken drugs. 

A further 3% had done any two of these behaviours.

11% had only carried out one of these behaviours, with drinking being the most common. 

84% had not recently exhibited any of these behaviours (not shown on image).

 

An image showing overlapping behaviour of having recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs

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For more data relating to this section:

 

 

Attitudes to smoking, drinking and drug use

Attitudes to people of pupil's age smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs

Pupils were more likely to find one-off experimentation acceptable than doing something as frequently as once a week.

Pupils were much more likely to think that drinking alcohol was OK (52% to try, 27% to do every week), than smoking (24% and 9% respectively). 

Acceptence of e-cigaratte use was higher than that of smoking, with 36% saying it was OK to try an e-cigarette, and 24% saying it was OK to use them once once a week.

Drug use was the least likely activity to be seen as acceptable; 13% thought it was OK for someone of their age to try cannabis and 7% thought it OK to take once a week. Levels of approval for sniffing glue and taking cocaine were lower still.

After a longer term decline, acceptence of both drinking and drug use have increased in recent years. This does not apply to smoking. See parts 3, 7 and 10 for more information on the time series data.

Chart showing attitudes to people of pupil's age smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs

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For more data relating to this section:

Last edited: 9 August 2019 8:34 am