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BMJ. Aug 17, 1996; 313(7054): 394–397.
PMCID: PMC2351821

Drinking, smoking, and illicit drug use among 15 and 16 year olds in the United Kingdom.


OBJECTIVE: To examine patterns of self reported drinking, smoking, and illicit drug use among a representative United Kingdom sample of people born in 1979. DESIGN: Cross sectional, single phase survey based on a stratified cluster sample of 70 United Kingdom secondary schools during March and April 1995. Pupils completed a 406 item standardised questionnaire under examination conditions. SETTING: United Kingdom state and private secondary schools. SUBJECTS: 7722 pupils aged 15 and 16. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Reported use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. RESULTS: Almost all the pupils had drunk alcohol, 36% (2772/7689) had smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, and 42.3% (3264/7722) had at some time used illicit drugs, mainly cannabis. 43% (1546/3546) of boys and 38% (1529/4009) of girls had tried cannabis. Higher levels of smoking were associated with poorer school performance (20.4% (783/3840) with average performance v 44.1% (214/486) with below average performance, F = 79.06, P < 0.01). Levels of drug use in 15 and 16 year olds in 1995 were higher in Scotland than in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland. CONCLUSIONS: Drug experimentation was high among 15 and 16 year olds, and use of cannabis was particularly high among smokers. Cigarette smoking was more common among girls than boys.

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  • May C. A burning issue? Adolescent alcohol use in Britain 1970-1991. Alcohol Alcohol. 1992 Mar;27(2):109–115. [PubMed]

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