Australian kids are drinking and smoking far less than before

According to a new study, Australian school aged children are drinking less than what their parents did two decades ago. The study also finds that these kids are less likely to indulge in tobacco smoking and use of cannabis than their peers 20 years before. This study comes from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. It has been published in the latest issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Review.

The team of researchers looked at the results of student surveys involving over 40,000 students staying in and around Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia and aged an average of 13.5 years over a period between 1999 and 2015.

This encouraging trend has been attributed to the public health messages that have been spread among the communities and parents have apparently heeded to those warnings feel researchers. The study says that parents now know the harmful effects of even small amounts of alcohol consumption and are not providing their kids with alcohol. In fact the parental supply of alcohol containing beverages to kids has dropped from 22 percent in 2007 to 12 percent in this latest study. Further, the sale of alcohol to minors has also reduced from 12 percent to 1 percent in the last few years. Only 45 percent of the surveyed teenagers agreed to have ever been drinking. When compared over 70 percent teenagers in 2000 agreed to have tried drinking.

According to the team leader Professor John Toumbourou, from Deakin University, this study is significant as it actually shows how much impact public health campaigns have on the general population. Parents are actually listening to the recommended national health guidelines he said and this has turned Australia from a country that had one of the highest rates of alcohol use among high school students to one of the lowest rates at present. Restricting alcohol purchases among minors by strengthening the laws have also worked he said. There have been several strong school drug education programmes that have reached out to school students and resulted in these encouraging numbers he said. Each of these efforts have been critical in protecting the youngsters from alcohol related harm he said.

Some experts have added that while these results seem encouraging, it has to be noted that they were confined to Victoria and more educated communities. A wider and more extensive survey looking at different populations could throw a better light on the actual scenario among youth in Australia.

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