Good news: Fewer teens are smoking. Bad news: They’re taking drugs instead.

A quarter of 11-15 year-olds have tried substances at least once, studies reveal. Instead of smoking or drinking, teenagers in the UK are now more likely to use drugs. Swings and roundabouts…

A national survey by NHS Digital, found 24% of teenagers between the age of 11-15 years say they had used a recreational drug at least once – this is a 9% increase since 2014.

On the other hand, the survey found 19% of children say they had smoked cigarettes at least once, roughly the same as 2014, but much lower than the figure in 1996 when almost 50% children questioned, had smoked a cigarette.

The survey also found 44% of secondary school students say they had tried alcohol.


However, in 2016, the survey found the alcohol consumption rate among teenagers ranged from 15% in 11 year-olds to 73% in 15 year-olds. This year saw a fall in alcohol consumption rate, not just among teenagers but also adults as the global alcohol consumption rate fell by 1.3% in 2016.

A dip in smoking and alcohol figures highlight a shifting focus on drug use. However, Harry Shapiro, director of DrugWise told the Guardian, that it was too early to say whether the findings showed a new trend.

It is essential to point out that drug usage varies widely by age, ethnicity and type. According to the NHS Digital survey, drug use was more common among black children, followed by mixed ethnicity, followed by Asians and then White Pupils. Cannabis was the most commonly used drug, with over 9% admitting to having tried it. About 6% admitted trying nitrous oxide (laughing gas) 3.5% had tried stimulants like cocaine, ecstasy and 2% said they had used psychedelics. One in 200 admitted trying heroin.

Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst at Transform Drug Policy Foundation told the Guardian: “We are actually seeing success of effective regulation of tobacco and public health approach to drinking and smoking. It shows that regulation can work and it shows that public health education can work. So why do we have this wildly different approach for drugs?”

Global Spirits are high, but booze is on the low

Have we fallen out of love with booze? A tragic love story as spirits continue to soar high. Source: Eater Collective,

There is a new paradox in the world of alcohol. Globally, alcohol consumption is declining faster than it ever has in the past five years, yet at the same time, spirits consumption is on the rise.

According to the IWSR report, alcohol consumption fell by 1.3%  in 2016, compared to the average 0.3% decrease in the previous years. However, the global spirits market grew by 0.3%

The decline in the vodka consumption affected the overall performance of spirits. The decline was counteracted by  healthy volume growth in other spirits- gin (+3.7%), tequila (+5.2%) and whiskey (+1.7%).

Not many boys were cracking open a cold one, as beer saw the biggest decline, with consumption dropping by 1.8% in 2016 and cider decline by -1.5%

Consumption of still wine dropped by 0.5% in 2016, while the sparkling wine market grew by 1.8% driven by prosecco.

Alexander Smith, editor of IWSR magazine said the drop was surprising, given an improving global economy. This surpasses the usually close correlation between global growth and alcohol consumption, he added.

Official data from Office for National Statistics in UK shows that 56.9% of those aged over 16 had a drink in the week before being interviewed – a fall from 64.2% in 2005. The new data also shows that 21% adults do not drink alcohol at all.

In the light of this report, there is a rise of teetotalism in Britain with almost half of the population shunning a regular drink.

Dave Roberts, director general of industry-funded Alcohol Information Partnership, told Telegraph: “We welcome the positive trends around binge drinking which have declined by 17% and 23% respectively since 2005, in UK.”

Despite the overall decrease of global alcohol consumption, the IWSR predicts that this declining trend will reverse in the next five years, forecasting it to rise by 0.8% until 2021.

This will largely be led by whisky consumption, which IWSR predicts will grow in volume to 650 million litres by 2021. According to LS:N, American and Irish whiskies are finding success because they seem accessible, unlike staid scotch.

Are you contributing to the global decline? Or are you gearing up to help it rise by 2021? For now, can I have an Old Fashioned please…


Cocaine deaths rising, so why are people taking it? Read our report


Words: Rituja Rao | Subbing: Bishakha Dutta and Joshua Hornsey

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