Cigarettes, cannabis, alcohol… Young people have never used so few drugs

Cigarettes, cannabis, alcohol… Young people have never used so few drugs

Since the last survey carried out in 2017 by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Trends, all levels of drug use have decreased. The Covid and its containments play a big role in this improvement.

Rolling one quickly after history-geography class. Down a small glass during the end-of-year party. Burn out your cigarette in the cold of the morning before going to polish up your homework at the CDI. The rituals of a certain youth that seem to be gradually disappearing? This is what shows the new survey carried out by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Tendencies (OFDT). Published this Thursday, the study carried out as part of the Defense and Citizenship Day looked at the consumption of 23,701 girls and boys aged 17 on average. And levels of legal and illegal drug use have never been lower. Since the previous survey carried out in 2017 by the OFDT, all levels of drug use have fallen.

Especially smoking, which takes a serious hit. In 2022, less than one in two 17-year-olds said they had smoked at least one cigarette (manufactured or rolling) in their lifetime (46.5%), compared to 59% in 2017. frequency of consumption considered, smoking fell sharply between 2017 and 2022. The levels of experimentation, i.e. at least one cigarette in one’s lifetime, and daily use, have lost 13 and 10 points respectively over this period. This downward trend has been observed since the first survey published in 2000. In 2022, 15.6% of young people surveyed said they smoked daily compared to 25.1% in 2017.

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E-cigarette use on the rise

This decrease in smoking is observed in both boys and girls. Although the latter are still as numerous as their male counterparts to have tried cigarettes, daily (at least one cigarette per day) and intensive (more than ten cigarettes per day) use is still more often the practice of boys (17% against 14.2% and 5% against 2.3%).

“This frank and clear drop is unheard of”, note from Release Stanislas Spilka, Head of the Surveys and Statistical Analysis Unit at the OFDT. “Overall, we see that smoking among teenagers is largely denormalized today. And 2014 saw the arrival of the first generations who only experienced the ban on sales to minors.

A notable exception, the use of electronic cigarettes is increasing sharply, notably driven by female consumption which is on the rise. Among all respondents, experimentation has thus increased from 52.4% to 56.9% and daily use of the vaper has tripled in five years (from 1.9% in 2017 to 6.2% in 2022). Nevertheless, “There is no evidence that the decline in smoking is linked to an increase in vaping practices, nuance the analyst. At this stage, it is not because two curves intersect that we have a correlation. But we have to ask ourselves questions, in particular about the possible impact of relatively targeted marketing, especially with the puffs [e-cigarettes jetables aromatisées, ndlr]».

The neglected cannabis

In 2022, young people are still smoking less cannabis. The decline in its use, which began in 2014, is confirmed, regardless of the frequency of use. The experience of the first smoked joint fell by nearly 10 points compared to 2017 (29.9% in 2022 against 39.1% in 2017). The same goes for regular use – which consists of ten drinks in the last month – and daily consumption, which have been halved between 2017 and 2022.

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Beyond cannabis, the levels of use of illicit drugs all show a notable drop compared to 2017. Among these psychoactive substances, MDMA (ecstasy) thus remains the product most consumed by young people aged 17, with experimentation (at least one lifetime use) of 2%. It is followed by cocaine (excluding cocaine based, known as crack) at 1.4% and hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD or ketamine which are at 1% and 0.9% of the public surveyed who have tested them.

We note that 20% of young people questioned have never drunk alcohol. They were 5% twenty years ago. “Things are moving slowly, not at the speed of tobacco control, but the outlook and perception around alcohol is changing. If there was a real effort in terms of public policy to go further, prevention could really work,” hopes Stanislas Spilka.

How can this massive drop be explained? For Stanislas Spilka, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and successive confinements is undeniable. “It is sociability that promotes experimentation. When adolescents are placed in a desert island situation, this phenomenon creates such a parenthesis that the situation ultimately becomes the paroxysm of prevention: by isolating the adolescents, we realize that they no longer experience either the cannabis, tobacco or alcohol.



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