New figures from NHS Digital show a decrease in the number of school children taking drugs and smoking cigarettes but a rise in vaping, with 9% of 11–15-year-olds currently using e-cigarettes.
The number of young people vaping has increased, with 9% of secondary school pupils currently (either regularly or occasionally) using e-cigarettes in 2021, an increase from 6% in 20181, statistics published today show.
The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England, 2021 report also found that cigarette smoking has decreased, 3% of pupils were current smokers, a decline from 5% in 2018. In addition, 12% reported having ever smoked, a decrease from 16% in 2018, and the lowest level ever recorded.
The report contains results from a biennial survey of secondary school pupils in England years 7–11 (mostly aged 11–15), focusing on smoking, drinking and drug use.
The number of young people taking drugs has also decreased, 18% of pupils reported having ever taken drugs, a decline from 24% in 2018. 12% of pupils said they had taken drugs in the last year, down from 17% in 2018.
A new analysis of the impact of Covid is included in this report, including how pupils took part in school learning in the last school year (September 2020–July 2021) and how often they met others outside of school and at home.
Pupils who frequently met up with people outside their school or home, were more likely to have recently smoked, drunk alcohol or taken drugs.
Of pupils who met with people every day, 9% were current smokers, 12% usually drank alcohol once a week, and 19% had taken drugs in the last month. For pupils who had never met other people in the last four weeks, these proportions fell to 1%, 2%, and 2% respectively.
The report also looks at well-being, with pupils asked questions about life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety.
Low levels of life satisfaction were experienced by 57% of young people who had recently smoked, drank alcohol and taken drugs. This compared to 35% who had recently done just one of these things, and 18% who had not recently smoked, drank or taken drugs.