More students admit to drinking: survey

The number of Canadian students using tobacco products has dropped over the past couple of years but the number using e-cigarettes has risen. Nearly one in four admit to high-risk drinking and fewer see smoking cannabis as a risk.

Those are among the highlights of the 2016-2017 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, a national survey that measures tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadian students in Grades 7 to 12 (secondary I to V in Quebec). Other findings:

• There has been an overall decline in past 30-day use of any tobacco product from 12% in 2014-15 to 10%.
• 10% of students reported having used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, an increase from 6% in 2014-15.
• The prevalence among Canadian students of high-risk drinking behaviour (which is defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion) in the past 12 months remained unchanged from the 2014-15 survey at 24%. However, the number of students who report drinking at least once in the past 12 months rose from 40% to 44%.
• Cannabis use among students has remained constant at 17%, unchanged from 2014-15.
• Only 19% of students believe smoking cannabis once in a while is a “great risk,” down from 25% in 2014 15.

The research was conducted on behalf of Health Canada by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo. “This survey helps us understand where we need to do more to support youth so that they can make healthier choices,” says Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor.

“It provides a solid foundation of evidence for our future policies and actions to address issues of substance use among young Canadians.” Among other things, the federal government set aside money in this year’s budget to fund a range of actions over five years to improve treatment, address stigma and expand the evidence base on problematic substance use.

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