Young people’s wellbeing associated with smoking, drinking and drug use behaviours

Results have been published from Ipsos MORI’s latest survey on behalf of NHS Digital about the prevalence of smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England. The survey also covers their attitudes towards these behaviours, and for the first time in 2018, young people’s wellbeing.

The author(s)

  • Emily Mason Public Affairs
  • Sam Clemens Public Affairs
  • Krishna Dabhi Public Affairs
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Ipsos MORI recently carried out an in-school survey of pupils in years 7 to 11 (mostly aged 11 to 15) in England, which asked about their experiences and attitudes towards smoking, drinking and drug use. For the first time in 2018, young people were also asked about wellbeing.

Key headline findings include:

  • 16% of pupils had ever smoked cigarettes, down from 19% in 2016, and 49% in 1996.
  • 5% of pupils were current smokers, down from 22% in 1996.
  • 10% of pupils said they had drunk alcohol in the last week. This varied by age, with 2% of 11 year olds having drunk alcohol, compared with 23% of 15 year olds.
  • 22% of 15 year olds reported having been drunk in the last four weeks.
  • 24% of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. This varied from 9% of 11 year olds, to 38% of 15 year olds.
  • 9% of pupils said that they had taken drugs in the last month.
  • 38% of children who had recently drunk, smoked and taken drugs reported low levels of life satisfaction nowadays, against 15% who had done none of those things.

Technical note

  • The survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use amongst Young people in England has been running every year or two years since 1982. Further information about the 2018 survey and previous years can be found on the NHS Digital website.
  • The survey population comprised pupils in Years 7 to 11 in secondary schools, or in an equivalent year group in middle and upper schools. At the time of sampling, most of these pupils were aged between 11 and 15, although some of those pupils in year 11 would have been 16 by the time they took part in the survey.
  • In total, 193 secondary schools in England agreed to take part in the survey. The sample included almost all types of secondary school in both the maintained and independent sectors of education in England. Special schools and pupil referral units were excluded from the survey
  •  A total of 13,664 completed, usable questionnaires were collected from pupils in these schools.
  • Questionnaires were completed on paper in a school setting between September 2018 and February 2019.

The author(s)

  • Emily Mason Public Affairs
  • Sam Clemens Public Affairs
  • Krishna Dabhi Public Affairs

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