Teenagers’ drug and cigarette use declines as vaping gains popularity – figures

Teenagers’ drug and cigarette use declines as vaping gains popularity – figures

Drug use and smoking are in decline among high school pupils, but vaping is on the rise, according to a new report.

New figures from NHS Digital suggest that some 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds in England smoke e-cigarettes.

This is a rise from 6% in 2018 – the last time the figures were published.

E-cigarette use is more common among older pupils, according to the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2021 report.

Just 1% of 11-year-olds said they used e-cigarettes compared with 18% of 15-year-olds.

And current e-cigarette use for 15-year-old girls increased from 10% in 2018 to 21% in 2021

Meanwhile the proportion of pupils who said they were smokers declined from 5% in 2018 to 3% in 2021.

And 12% reported having ever smoked, a decrease from 16% in 2018, according to the survey of secondary school pupils, mostly aged 11 to 15.

Earlier this year data from the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) showed that the proportion of children vaping is on the rise, with many being influenced by social media sites such as TikTok and Instagram.

The study, shared exclusively with the PA news agency, also found that children were increasingly drawn to newer, disposable e-cigarettes which cost about £5 each and come in a wide range of fruity flavours.

Some 6% of pupils said they usually drank alcohol at least once a week, which is unchanged between the two surveys.

In 2021, 40% of pupils said they had ever had an alcoholic drink, compared with 44% in 2018, and just over a third (34%) of pupils said that they drank alcohol at least a few times a year.

Older pupils were more likely to report they had been drunk in the last month compared with almost no 11-year-olds.

Among the small number who said they are current drinkers, pupils were more likely to report drinking at home compared with 2018, and two thirds said they usually drank with their parents.

Meanwhile some 18% of pupils reported having ever taken drugs, down from 24% in 2018.

Cannabis is the drug pupils were most likely to have taken, with 6% saying they had taken it in 2021, down from 8% in 2018.

Those reporting taking Class A drugs has remained at about 2% to 3% since 2010.

The survey also asked children about their wellbeing, life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety.

Girls reported lower measures of wellbeing compared with boys.

Almost half (46%) of 15-year-old girls reported a low level of happiness, and 51% reported a high level of anxiety on the previous day.

Some 57% of young people who had recently smoked, drunk alcohol and taken drugs reported low levels of life satisfaction compared with 35% who had recently done just one of these things, and 18% who had not recently smoked, drunk or taken drugs, NHS Digital said.

Published: by Radio NewsHub
Start your relationship

If you are interested in receiving bulletins from Radio News Hub or would simply like to find out more please fill in the form below. We operate on annual contracts - spread the cost is available.

We aim to get back to you within 48 hours