You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

You are on the Natcen site

Click here for Scotcen

natcen map

Survey of Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England

Lads drinking
Researchers: Elizabeth Fuller


Every year, we speak to around 6000 11-15 year olds to find out:

  • how many smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs and any patterns in these behaviours;
  • what they think about smoking, drinking and drug use;
  • and whether certain factors affect smoking, drinking or drug use.

Latest findings

Our latest findings are from 2013.

Watch a short animation about our latest findings. 

Trying smoking is at its lowest level since the mid-1990s

22% of pupils reported that they had tried smoking at least once - in 1996, nearly half (49%) had done so.

The prevalence of regular smoking has also declined

In 2012, 4% of pupils were defined as regular smokers (at least one cigarette a week), down from a high of 13% in 1996.

The number of pupils drinking alcohol has fallen

39% of pupils aged 11 to 15 said that they had had at least one alcoholic drink in their lifetime - a decline from 61% in 2003. 10% reported drinking alcohol in the last week, a decrease from 25% in 2003.

There has been a decline in drug use

In 2012, 16% of pupils reported that they had ever taken drugs, down from 29% in 2001. 11% had taken them in the last year and 6% in the last month.


We speak to young people in around 200 schools of all kinds, including state-maintained and independent schools. In each school, a sample of pupils is randomly selected from all classes in Years 7 to 11 and asked to complete a paper questionnaire. The survey is administered by NatCen interviewers in order to guarantee confidentiality to participants.

Read the reports here