Overall declines seen in tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use, but some teen behaviours still risky

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use all fell between 2004 and 2007, but some results are still concerning, especially for teenagers and young people.

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: first results report shows that the proportion of the population aged 14 years or older who smoked daily declined from 17.4% to 16.6% between 2004 and 2007.

'This is one of the lowest daily smoking rates in the world,' said AIHW spokesperson Mark Cooper-Stanbury.

Recent cannabis use dropped significantly from 11.3% to 9.1%, and a decline in methamphetamine use, from 3.2% to 2.3%, was also seen.

The survey findings suggest that there has been no increase in the use of crystal methamphetamine-or 'ice'-in contrast to the general perception.

'However, since the last survey, the proportion of both men and women reporting recent cocaine use has increased, but more so for men-from 1.3% to 2.2%,' he said.

The report also raises concerns regarding Australia's youth.

Around one-quarter of teenagers put themselves at risk of short-term alcohol-related harm at least once a month.

'The proportion was higher among females (28.3%) than males (24.5%),' said Mr Cooper-Stanbury.

'The report also showed 16-17-year-old females were almost twice as likely to be daily smokers (7.4%) as their male counterparts (4.1%), although both of these figures dropped by about half from the previous survey,' he said.

As with past surveys, this report shows the most commonly-reported illicit drugs used in the previous 12 months were cannabis, ecstasy, pain killers used for non-medical purposes, and methamphetamine.

The general decreases between 2004 and 2007 in illicit drug use over the past 12 months were even more marked for 14-30-year-olds.

Decreases for teenagers in the use of any illicit drug were from 20.9% to 15.6% for males, and 21.8% to 17.7% for females.

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between July and November 2007, and included over 23,000 Australians aged 12 years or older. Most of the analysis in the report is based on the population aged 14 years or older.


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