Young people overall now smoke and drink less
Efforts made at the beginning of the decade to improve the health of young people seem to be paying off. Fresh research shows that young people experiment with smoking or take up the habit at an older age. Abstinence from alcoholic drink has increased among 12-16 year-olds and inebriation has dropped among 18-year-olds.
The trends were recorded from a survey conducted in 2007 of 5,840 young people aged 12-18.
The replies to the survey indicate that experimenting with smoking has declined among all young age groups. Smoking and tobacco products no longer have the same significance attached to them for young people than for the previous generation.
Smoking is less conspicuous and there is a greater understanding of the health risks it involves, and so it is less of a symbol of adulthood. It is more often seen as a sign of being a ‘loser’.
On average, every eighth respondent aged 12 had experimented with smoking. In 1977 the figure recorded was every second 12-year-old. A quarter of 18-year-olds have never tried smoking.
Daily smoking has also dropped among 14-18-year-olds. The trend is mainly due to young people taking up smoking at a laterage in general. About a third of 18-year-olds (30% of boys and 29% of girls) use tobacco in the form of cigarettes or Swedish snuff daily.
Though abstinence from drinking alcohol has increased among 12-16-year-olds, inebriation – drinking to get drunk – has increased among 18-year-old boys. Some 41% of boys and 30% of girls in this age group get drunk at least once a month. 12% of boys do so every week.
The survey analysis attributes the persistence of heavy drinking to the 2004 alcohol tax cut and elimination of import quotas on alcoholic drinks. It says that unless this trend is broken, for instance by raising the tax on drink, the social and health fallout from alcohol will increase among young people.
Further information: Prof. Arja Rimpelä, University of Tampere, tel: +358-3-3551-6802, +358-50-569-8285 ([email protected]).