Cyprus in top 3 of teenage drinking in EU
Smoking and drinking among 15 and 16-year-old students in the EU are showing signs of decline, but there are concerns over challenges posed by new drugs and new addictive behaviours. And while overall illicit drug use is stable in this group after previous increases (1995–2003), it continues at high levels.
These are among the findings released on Tuesday in the latest report from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD). The study, published in collaboration with the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), is based on a 2015 survey in 35 European countries, including 24 EU member states.
Alcohol consumption among students in Cyprus stands well above the EU average, according to the ESPAD report, placing Cyprus third among 48 countries.
The survey found that the Cypriot students reported higher levels 68% (compared to EU average 48%) of alcohol use in the last 30 days, including heavy episodic drinking at 50% (compared to 35% EU average).
On the contrary, substance use rates stand at more or less the same magnitude as the ESPAD average for five of the eight key variables studied.
The report said that lifetime cannabis use in Cyprus was below the average (7 % versus 16 %). The same applies to cigarette smoking, that is lower than the EU average (18% versus 21%), tranquilisers without prescription (5% versus 6%), but use of inhalants is marginally higher (8% to 7%).
According to the key findings, on average, over 60% of the students in the participating countries replied that they would find it fairly or very easy (hereafter referred to as easy) to get hold of cigarettes if they wanted to. Students in the Czech Republic were most likely to find it easy (80%), followed closely by Austria (79%), Liechtenstein (77%) and Denmark (76%). Low figures of perceived availability were found in Moldova (22%) and in three other countries in the eastern part of Europe: FYROM (38%), Romania (37%) and Ukraine (39%). Gender differences were negligible at the aggregate level (62% for boys versus 60% for girls).
Nearly half of the students (47%) reported alcohol use at the age of 13 or younger. The highest proportions were in Georgia (72%), the Czech Republic (68%) and Cyprus (68%). The countries with the lowest rates were Iceland (14%) and Norway (19%).
About three in ten students (30%) rated cannabis to be easily available. In the Czech Republic (50%), more students than in any other ESPAD country reported easy access. High proportions were also found in Slovenia (45%), as well as in Bulgaria and Liechtenstein (44% each). The countries with the lowest perceived availability of cannabis were Moldova (5%) and Ukraine (11%). Boys were more likely than girls to consider cannabis to be easily available (32% versus 29%).