Australia's Teens Hate Smoking and Drinking, Study Finds

The results of our national drug and alcohol survey are not lit.
June 1, 2017, 12:43am
Image via Pixabay

Teens. Very busy with their spinners and their dabbing and their memes—too busy, perhaps, to indulge in the once-beloved national past time of annihilating their young brain cells with cheap vodka purchased by a cool older sibling. According to the newly-released National Drug Strategy Household Survey, Australian teenagers are extremely responsible these days. In fact, they're hardly drinking or smoking at all.


According to the survey, conducted every three years by the Department of Health to monitor tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use in Australia, a significantly lower proportion of 18–24 year olds surveyed last year consumed five or more standard drinks on a monthly basis than in 2013. And the number of young people abstaining from alcohol altogether significantly increased from 2013 to 2016—from 72 percent to 82 percent.

Meanwhile and unsurprisingly, baby boomers are getting on the piss as much as ever. According to the survey, people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s have actually increased their drug and alcohol usage in the period between 2013 and 2016. Something for so-called lazy millennials to keep in mind.

When it comes to smoking, there hasn't been a massive decline since 2013 when it comes to daily smokers. Out of young people 14 years or older, 12.2 percent characterised themselves as daily smokers in 2016. But the proportion of teens who had never smoked more than 100 cigarettes significantly grew between 2013 and 2016, from 95 percent to 98 percent.

WATCH: Teenage Exorcists

Teenagers are waiting longer to take their first awkward drag, too. The average age at which 14- to 24-year-olds smoked their first full cigarette has increased from 14.2 years in 1995 to 16.3 in 2016. The average age in 2013 was 15.9 years. In general, Australian smokers are buying fewer cigarettes, with the average number of cigarettes smoked per week declining from 110 to 94 cigarettes between 2001 and 2016. And the proportion of Australians who have never smoked is on the up, increasing from 60 percent in 2013 to 62 percent in 2016.

The survey results also provide insight into Australia's illicit drug habits. They show that in 2016, the nation's most commonly used drugs were cannabis, misused pharmaceuticals, cocaine, and ecstasy. Yep—the meth crisis isn't what the Daily Telegraph tells you it is. However, while use of methamphetamines like ice has fallen, those who do use these drugs are doing so with much more frequency than those indulging in cocaine or MDMA. Only two percent of people using ecstasy and cocaine are doing so on a weekly basis, compared to 32 percent of ice users.

And that's something to be worried about, according to those who took part in the survey. Methamphetamine has overtaken excessive drinking of alcohol as the "drug of most concern to Australians."

But meth consumption is still decreasing overall—and given how straight edge the nation's future adults are, maybe we don't need to be so worried.

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