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Aussies smoking less, doing more drugs

Fewer Australians are smoking every day, but illicit drugs use is on the rise, the latest health survey says.


Some 15.1 per cent of Australians aged 14 or over were smoking daily last year, representing a substantial drop from 16.6 per cent in 2007.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which conducted the study, said the findings were encouraging, along with decreased rates of alcohol consumption among teenagers aged 12 to 17.

But it was countered by other statistics on drinking, which haven’t changed since 2007, and an increase in the use of illicit drugs.

One in five people is drinking an average of more than two standards drinks in a day – that figure hasn’t changed in three years.

Health organisations have also failed to make a dent in the number of people drinking more than four standards beverages in a session at least once a month.

Drug use was up, with 14.7 per cent of Australians aged 14 and over having taken something in the past 12 months – a jump from 13.4 per cent in 2007.

“There was an increase in the proportion of people who had used cannabis, pharmaceuticals for non-medical purposes, cocaine and hallucinogens,” the institute’s Brent Diverty said in a statement.

“For the first time since 1995, ecstasy use declined between 2007 and 2010, from 3.5 per cent to three per cent.”

The survey, released on Wednesday, also showed a shift in attitudes, with higher levels of support for policies that reduce smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

The National Drug Strategy Household Surveys have been conducted by the government’s health statistics agency since 1998 to provide a snapshot of drug use in Australia.


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