Scotland politics

Drop in Scots youngsters smoking, drinking and taking drugs

young people drinking
Image caption The report found the number of 15-year-olds drinking alcohol has fallen from 34% to 19%

The number of young Scots smoking, drinking and using drugs is at its lowest level ever recorded, according to new figures.

The proportion of 15-year-olds who had recently drunk alcohol fell to 19% in 2013, down from 34% in 2010.

For 13-year-olds, it was down from 14% to 4%. These were the lowest levels since 1990.

Among 15-year-olds, 9% had recently used drugs, down from 11% in 2010.

The figures were published in the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle And Substance Use Survey (Salsus) 2013 report.

It provides trends on substance use and lifestyle issues among Scotland's young people.

The study found that 9% of 15-year-olds and 2% of 13-year-olds reported being a regular smoker, down from 13% and 3% in 2010 and the lowest levels since 1982.

More than three-quarters (76%) of school pupils reported that they had never smoked, up from 45% in 2002.

'Harmful effects'

More than eight in 10 (82%) of 15-year-olds and 96% of 13-year-olds reported they had never used drugs - the highest figure since the survey began in 1998.

The survey, funded by the Scottish government, also found that 17% of 15-year-olds and 7% of 13-year-olds had tried e-cigarettes, while 6% of regular, and 2% of occasional, smokers reported using them on a weekly basis.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said the findings were "encouraging".

She added: "This demonstrates real progress in protecting our young people from the harmful effects of alcohol, smoking and drugs.

"However, there is still work to be done. Our alcohol framework contains over 40 measures to tackle alcohol misuse and we are consulting on stronger regulation of electronic cigarettes and proposals to further protect young people from second-hand smoke."

Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said tighter controls were needed to ensure e-cigarettes do not "reinforce the normality of smoking behaviour".

He added: "We believe that the sale of e-cigarettes should be appropriately regulated to ensure that they are not sold to those under the age of 18 and are not aggressively marketed to young people as tobacco was in the past."

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