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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 13:42 GMT
Drink and drug poll shows teen problem
teenage smokers
The rate of teen smoking remains steady
Roughly one in five children aged 11 to 15 took drugs in the past year - and one in ten are regular smokers, according to a survey.

Almost a quarter told government researchers they had drunk alcohol in the week prior to the survey.

More than 10,000 pupils across England were quizzed to help ministers work out the extent of drinking, drug-taking and smoking among teenagers.

While the results are broadly in line with last year's, they fuel worries about, in particular, binge drinking.

The same proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds said they had consumed alcohol - but the amount they had drunk was twice that admitted by teenagers in the 1990 survey.

The results varied widely by age - 47% of 15-year-olds said they had drunk alcohol in the previous week.

Falling rate

The prevalence of drug-taking actually fell slightly overall in 2002, from 20% to 18% who said they had taken drugs in the past year, although this reflected only a fall in girls taking drugs, not boys.

Of those surveyed, 11% said they had taken drugs in the past month.

The most likely drug was cannabis, but one percent of those questionned said they had taken heroin.

More than 30% of 15-year-olds said they had taken cannabis within the last year.

Drug-pushing remains endemic - 38% said they had been offered one of more drugs in the previous year.

Ministers want to reduce the number of regular teenage smokers over the next seven years to 9% of 11-15-year-olds.

Tobacco researchers say that most effective way to protect any individual from the harmful effects of smoking is to spend heavily to try to stop them taking it up in the first place - as addicted smokers find it hard to quit, even with expensive support.

The research was carried out the National Centre for Social Research and the National Foundation for Educational Research.

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