Fewer Scots school pupils choosing to drink or smoke

17 per cent of 15-year-olds in Scotland said they had drank alcohol in the past week. Picture: Colin Hattersley

17 per cent of 15-year-olds in Scotland said they had drank alcohol in the past week. Picture: Colin Hattersley

Share this article
3
Have your say

The number of teenage pupils smoking or drinking alcohol has fallen sharply over the last decade, a major survey of Scottish schools has found.

A large majority do not take any substances regularly, with 80 per of 15-year-olds and 95 per cent of 13-year-olds saying they were likely to abstain, according to the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS).

Image: Ipsos Mori

Image: Ipsos Mori

Pupils were asked to fill out anonymous questionnaires on whether they had ever drank, smoked or tried illegal drugs such as cannabis or ecstasy. Those who admitted to trying any of the three were then asked to share how often they used each substance.

There has been a sharp drop in the numbers smoking - with just seven per cent of 15-year-olds and two per cent of 13-year-olds regularly using tobacco. In 1982, 29 per cent of 15-year-old girls and 26 per cent of boys smoked.

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said the report was “testament to the significant work being done around the country with young people to promote positive alternatives to substance use”.

The biennial survey, compiled on behalf of the Scottish Government, is based on responses from 25,304 pupils across 264 secondary schools in both the state and independent sector.

Image: Ipsos Mori

Image: Ipsos Mori

Only a small proportion said they had drunk alcohol in the seven days prior to completing the survey - four per cent of 13-year-olds and 17 per cent of 15 year olds.

After a large decrease between 2010 and 2013, drinking in the last week has remained unchanged in the previous two years, with the exception of a small decrease among 15-year-old boys.

Less than a third of 13 year old pupils (28 per cent) and two-thirds of 15 year olds (66 per cent) have ever had an alcoholic drink.

READ MORE: Street gangs in decline as more youths opt to stay home

The report found the more money a young person had to spend a week, the more likely they were to have had an alcoholic drink. A quarter of 15-year-olds with £30 or more said they had drank in the seven previous days, compared to 11 per cent of those with £5 or less.

However, the report warned there appeared “to have been an increase in the availability of drugs since the last wave of the survey”, with a rise in the number of pupils who had been offered drugs and those who said they would find it easy to obtain drugs if they wanted to.

The overall number of respondents who said they had used drugs in the last month has gradually decreased since 2002.

Between 2013 and 2015 there has been a small increase in the proportion of 15-year-old boys who took drugs - one in 10 said they had used cannabis in the month prior to the survey.

“The drop in drinking, smoking and drug use in recent years is testament to the significant work being done around the country with young people to promote positive alternatives to substance use,” said Campbell.

“We are continuing to take action to protect and support young people through measures such as improved substance misuse education in schools, strengthening legislation and supporting children affected by substance misuse.

“I was pleased that minimum unit pricing for alcohol was ruled lawful by the Court of Session for the second time last week, and we intend to implement this life-saving policy as soon as possible. We have already strengthened legislation to crack down on those who sell alcohol to under-18s, restricted alcohol promotion, and established mandatory age verification.”

Back to the top of the page