A survey released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that younger Australians are smoking and drinking less. However, the habits of older people are becoming increasingly complex.

Nearly 24 000 Australians were surveyed about their attitudes towards tobacco, alcohol and drugs, with the results surprising some experts:

1. Smoking tobacco

The number of Australians smoking tobacco daily has now halved, to represent just 12% of our population. Similarly, the number of Aussies that have never smoked continues to rise, and now stands at 62%.

Teenagers are delaying their first cigarette until the age of 16. In contrast though, there has been little improvement in the rate of smoking amongst people over 30.

2. Alcohol consumption



It seems younger Australians are heeding warnings about underage drinking, as the age of their first drink continues to rise. Twenty years ago, teenagers began consuming alcohol at an average age of 14. Today, teenagers aren’t having their first alcoholic drink until 16 years.

In comparison, older generations demonstrated a more complex relationship with alcohol. People in their 50s and 60s reported having more than eleven standard drinks during one sitting.

“In 2007, 18 – 24 year old women were the group most likely to be drinking at lifetime risky levels,” Matthew James, deputy director of AIHW, told the ABC. “By 2016 it was actually 50 – 59 year old women who were the group with highest rate of lifetime risky drinking.”

3. Illicit drugs

Younger people are also less likely to have used illicit drugs today, the survey found. In contrast, the number of people aged over 40 who have used illicit substances rose from 14% to 16% over just three years.

The most commonly used drugs were cannabis (10%), prescription pills (5%), cocaine (3%) and ecstasy (2%). Australians reported less concern about the impact of cannabis, heroin and cocaine when compared to meth amphetamines; such as ice.

However, Mr James said the public perception about ice does not represent its use within the population. Instead, the AIHW states that alcohol is a more pressing health issue for Australian communities:

“The concern is the majority of alcohol is actually consumed by a small proportion of people. 20 per cent of adult Australians are consuming three quarters of the alcohol,” Mr James said.

If you need support in association with drugs or alcohol, contact Drug Arm on 1300 656 800 or visit their website.