Here is a snapshot of the lives of many teenagers in the last week and what they have consumed and where they have got it from.
Cigarettes – Who smokes?
One in twenty 12- to-15-year-olds and more than one in ten 16-to-17-year-old Australian students are current smokers but these numbers are lower than past figures, an Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing report has found.
The previous survey put the figures at 17% and 23%, respectively.
Where do they get their cigarettes?
Despite legislation banning sales to children under 18 throughout Australia, 20% of all students who smoked in the past week bought their last cigarette themselves. The single most common source, however, is friends who are current smokers (45%).
Alcohol – Who drinks?
The survey found that the proportion of students who had drunk alcohol in the past week increased with age, with an overall figure of 23% and a range from 11% in 12-year-olds to 41% in 17-year-olds.
In the week before the survey, just under 20% of 17-year-olds consumed alcohol at risky levels (defined as 7 or more drinks a day for males, 5 or more drinks a day for females).
What do they drink, who gets it for them and where do they drink?
Female students preferred premixed spirits and males opted for beer and spirits.
Most got their alcohol from parents (34%) or friends (22%) and consumed it in their own home (31%) or at a party (30%).
OTC and illicit substances
Painkillers are the most commonly used substance, licit or illicit: 41% had used them in the week prior to the survey and parents were the most common source.
Cannabis was the most commonly used illicit substance, but only 4% had used in the week before the survey.
More younger than older students used inhalants: 11% of 12-year-olds in the month prior to the survey but only 4% of 17-year-olds.
Use of amphetamines, tranquillisers and hallucinogens was low; steroid and ecstacy use was very uncommon; and cocaine use was rare.
Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: White V, Smith G for the Drug Strategy Branch, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. (2009) Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2008