Teenage drug use is lowest for nine years

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The Independent Online

Illegal drug use among teenagers has fallen to its lowest point for nine years, according to a major new study published today.

Illegal drug use among teenagers has fallen to its lowest point for nine years, according to a major new study published today.

A survey of 40,000 nine to 15-year-olds found 21 per cent of 14 and 15-year-olds admitted trying an illegal drug at least once; the lowest figure since 1991. The study, by the Schools Health Education Unit, found a steady decline in the proportion of children trying drugs since a peak of around one in three in 1996. But it also revealed the widespread availability of drugs in school. Around eight per cent of 14 and 15-year-olds said they had used cannabis regularly, and a quarter said they knew where to buy cannabis.

It was welcomed by drugs campaigners who said the figures vindicated the emphasis placed on early drugs education by Keith Hellawell, the Government's drugs tsar, who also hailed the findings yesterday.

Vivienne Evans, head of education and prevention at the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (Scoda) said: "We now know a lot more about what works in drug education. We know that the shock, horror tactics that we used during the 1980s do not really work."

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