NHS Digital1 must be quoted as the source of these figures
Regional data available within this report
2 November 2017
44 per cent of 11 to 15-year-old pupils have ever had an alcoholic drink2, 19 per cent have ever smoked cigarettes3and 24 per cent have ever taken drugs, latest estimates for 2016 published today show.
NHS Digital's Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People, England: 2016 report gathers anonymous data from 11 to 15-year-olds, which is then used by the government to monitor trends and gain a better understanding of their impact.
In a survey conducted by Ipsos Mori, 12,051 students from 177 schools across England were asked questions under exam conditions about their lifestyles, including their experience of smoking, drinking and drug use, their consumption of cigarettes and alcohol over the previous week and their awareness and availability of specific named drugs.
Almost one in five pupils had ever smoked cigarettes - similar to 2014, but a significant fall from 1996 when 49 per cent of pupils had ever smoked.
The report shows:
• Girls (20 per cent) were more likely to have ever smoked than boys (18 per cent).4
• 3 per cent of pupils were regular smokers (at least one cigarette a week).
• 20 per cent of regular smokers were committed to giving up; they had tried in the past and said that they would still like to. However, over twice as many (44 per cent) were unconcerned about dependence on smoking; they had never tried to give up and did not want to.
• The proportion of pupils reporting exposure to second hand smoke in a car fell from 34 per cent in 2014, to 26 per cent in 2016. A ban on smoking in cars with under-18s present was introduced by the government in 2015.
• 25 per cent of pupils reported that they had ever used e-cigarettes up from 22 per cent in 2014. Weekly e-cigarette usage remains low but has increased from 1 per cent to 2 per cent since 2014.
• E-cigarette use was strongly linked to cigarette smoking status. Most regular smokers (93 per cent) reported having ever used e-cigarettes, with 27 per cent reporting regular use. 13 per cent of non-smokers reported having ever used e-cigarettes.
44 per cent of pupils had ever had an alcoholic drink. These results are not comparable with previous years due to a change in the questions5.
The report shows:
• Girls (11 per cent) were more likely than boys (7 per cent) to have been drunk in the previous four weeks.
• Pupils who had consumed alcohol in the last week consumed an average of 9.6 units that week.6
• Beer, lager and cider accounted for more than half of the units of alcohol consumed by pupils in the last week (57 per cent). These drinks made up two thirds of boys' consumption (66 per cent), compared with less than half of girls' consumption (47 per cent).
Drug use estimates
24 per cent of pupils had ever taken drugs, an increase from 15 per cent in 2014. Part of this increase may be explained by the addition of questions on Nitrous Oxide and New Psychoactive Substances. After allowing for this, however, it still represents a large increase which has not been seen in other data sources.7 Therefore, the results for drugs taking from this survey should be treated with caution and more years of data are needed to understand if this is a genuine trend.