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Smoking and alcohol consumption among adolescents have decreased

Sosiaali- ja terveysministeriö
26.6.2013 6.00
Press release -

Adolescents' smoking has further decreased in the past two years. Alcohol consumption and drunkenness-oriented drinking have also decreased, while there is a growing interest in electronic cigarettes and experiments with waterpipes among young people.

This information is revealed by the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey 2013, carried out by the University of Tampere. A total of 4,158 people aged 12-18 responded to the survey. Funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, this survey has been conducted biennially since 1977.

Experimenting with tobacco and tobacco purchasing have decreased

Adolescents' daily smoking and experimenting with tobacco have further decreased. While 12 per cent of 14-18-year-olds smoke on a daily basis today, 25 per cent of adolescents of the same age smoked at the beginning of this millennium. Less than half of 16-year-olds had now experimented with tobacco, while as many as three out of four had done so at the beginning of the 2000s.

Experimenting with and using snus has increased since the beginning of the millennium, but using snus may now be levelling off. Among 18-year-old boys, more than every third have now tried snus. The numbers for girls' experiments have remained substantially lower throughout the study period.

The tobacco purchases made by underage people from stores,kiosks and service stations have also decreased in the past two years. According to researchers, factors that have affected this positive trend include the ban on tobacco product display and, possibly, the newly stipulated instructions on more extensive age limit supervision in grocery stores. However, nearly one in ten smoking 14-year-old adolescents and one in five smoking 16-year-old adolescents still buy tobacco products in stores, and slightly fewer buy them at kiosks. According to the survey, friends and adults still also commonly supply tobacco to minors.

Adolescents are interested in electronic cigarettes and waterpipes

Among adolescents who responded to the survey, only approximately 12 per cent did not know what electronic cigarettes were. Even though the adolescents knew about electronic cigarettes, the majority of them had not experimented with them. Among 18- and 16-year-old boys, 29 per cent had tried an electronic cigarette at least once, while this number for 18-year-old girls was 27 per cent and 21 per cent for 16-year-old girls. Having experimented more than once was still fairly unusual. Among the people who had tried the product once or a few times, approximately one in ten had never tried a tobacco product but instead started their experimenting directly with an electronic cigarette. Most usually, nicotine-rich fluids were used in electronic cigarettes.

Experimenting with smoking waterpipes is fairly common among adolescents, but more continued experimentation is less common. Most of the respondents had never tried a waterpipe. Among 18-year-old boys, 29 per cent had experimented with a waterpipe at least once, while this rate for 18-year-old girls was 30 per cent, 18 per cent for 16-year-old boys and 21 per cent for 16-year-old girls. The numbers of experiments have remained at the same level in recent years. As regards waterpipes, the most common means of smoking is to smoke a flavoured tobacco mix that contains nicotine.

The share of abstaining adolescents among 12-16-year-old girls and boys is at its highest point in the 2000s so far. Alcohol consumption and drunkenness-oriented drinking among adolescents have also clearly decreased.

Additional information

Professor Arja Rimpelä, University of Tampere, tel. +358 50 569 8285
Research Assistant Jaana M. Kinnunen, University of Tampere, tel. +358 40 190 1667
Specialist Hanna Ollila, National Institute for Health and Welfare,
tel. +358 29 524 8617
Planning Officer Hanna Samposalo, National Institute for Health and Welfare, tel. +358 29 524 7317 (questions related to alcohol use)
Ministerial Adviser Meri Paavola, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 2951 63343

Related topics

Substance harm prevention

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