News National Aussies smoking less but taking more drugs

Aussies smoking less but taking more drugs

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Australian are smoking and drinking less but using more illicit drugs, a national survey shows.

About 13 per cent of Australians are smoking daily, compared to 15 per cent three years ago, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) drug and alcohol survey released on Thursday.

And smokers have also cut the average number of cigarettes they smoke per week from 111 in 2010 to 96 in 2013.

The study also found fewer young people are drinking alcohol, with the proportion abstaining rising from 64 per cent to 72 per cent in the past three years.

“Overall, fewer younger people aged 12 to 17 are drinking alcohol,” AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck said.

Twenty-six per cent of Australians aged 14 or older reported being a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013, a decline from 29 per cent in 2010.

However, the use of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, has more than doubled in the past three years.

The misuse of pharmaceuticals also rose, increasing from 4.2 per cent in 2010 to 4.7 per cent in 2013.

“While the use of meth/amphetamine remained at a similar level to 2010, there was a major shift in the main form of meth/amphetamine used,” Mr Neideck said.

“Use of powder dropped significantly while the use of ice (or crystal methamphetamine) more than doubled between 2010 and 2013.”

There were slight declines in the use of ecstasy and heroin, he said.

Quit Victoria policy manager Kylie Lindorff said the smoking data highlighted what could be achieved with a comprehensive approach to tobacco control reform.

“This news is cause for celebration but we can’t take our eyes off the ball – we still have a way to go to achieve the federal government target of 10 per cent adult smoking prevalence by 2018,” she said.

“With tax increases already locked in for the next three years, there is no reason we can’t see smoking rates drop even further if there is a renewed investment to funding anti-smoking campaigns at the necessary levels and a continued expansion of smokefree areas.”

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every two to three years.

The 2013 survey collected data from nearly 24,000 people across Australia.

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