01.Drug and alcohol survey results are in
It seems Australia’s pioneering anti-smoking measures are having their desired effect, with fewer Australians smoking, fewer cigarettes being smoked weekly per smoker, and young people taking up smoking later.
Use of some illicit drugs, including heroin and ecstasy, has also declined, but meth use is steady.
The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), has found that fewer Australians are smoking daily, with the rate dropping significantly between 2010 and 2013, from 15.1% to 12.8% among people 14 or older. And the good news doesn’t end there – the daily smoking rate has halved since 1991, according to the AIHW.
The average number of cigarettes smoked per week has also fallen, with smokers reducing their consumption from 111 cigarettes in 2010 to 96 cigarettes in 2013.
Promising trends among young people
Not only is smoking on the decline overall, but young people specifically are making healthier choices. In the latest survey, 14 to 24-year-olds reported smoking their first full cigarette at 15.9 years of age, while in 1995 it was 14.2. And 95% of 12-17 year-olds and 77% of 18-24 year-olds have never smoked.
Younger people are also continuing to delay drinking. The age at which 14 to 24-year-olds first tried alcohol rose from 14.4 to 15.7 between 1998 and 2013.
“Overall, fewer younger people aged 12 to 17 are drinking alcohol, with the proportion abstaining from alcohol rising from 64% to 72% between 2010 and 2013,” AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck said. “And more good news is that compared to 2010, fewer people overall drank alcohol in quantities that exceeded the lifetime risk and single occasion risk guidelines in 2013.”
But despite that, 26% of people in Australia aged 14 or older reported being a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013. That being said, it’s an improvement – in 2010, 29% reported the same.
Australian drug use statistics
The survey also indicated a decline in the use of ecstasy (from 3.0% to 2.5%), heroin (from 0.2% to 0.1%) and GHB (from 0.1% to less than 0.1%) in 2013, but the misuse of pharmaceuticals has increased from 4.2% in 2010 to 4.7% in 2013. The use of meth/amphetamine has remained steady since 2010, though there has been a shift from powder to ice (or crystal methamphetamine).
About the survey
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every two to three years. The 2013 survey collected data from nearly 24,000 people across Australia from 31 July to 1 December 2013.