Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Scotland Reports Highest Rates of Cannabis Use Among 15-Year-Old Boys Globally

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A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report has highlighted a concerning trend in Scotland, showing that the country leads the world in cannabis use among 15-year-old boys. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed admitted to trying the substance at least once, raising significant public health concerns.

Key Findings of the WHO Report

  • High Usage Rates: The study surveyed 280,000 children across 44 countries, including Europe, Central Asia, and Canada. It revealed that 23% of 15-year-old boys in Scotland have tried cannabis, making it the highest reported rate globally.
  • Comparative Data: The report also sheds light on the broader issue of underage vaping and smoking, indicating that the UK struggles more with these issues compared to many other countries.
  • Gender Differences: While Scottish boys report the highest usage, 16% of girls the same age have also tried cannabis. In comparison, Canadian girls lead with 25% reporting cannabis use.

Global Context and Concerns

The survey included questions about the use of cigarettes, vapes, alcohol, and cannabis. Results show that both Scotland and Wales rank in the top five globally for underage cannabis use. This widespread use among teenagers is particularly troubling given the ongoing debates about the safety and long-term effects of cannabis, especially on young users.

Expert Insights

Dr. Jo Inchley from the University of Glasgow, who served as the international coordinator for the study, expressed concern over the findings. She noted that while there have been declines in experimental use, regular use among Scottish boys remains high compared to other countries. Dr. Inchley emphasized the need for continued attention to these issues, especially as cannabis use has stabilized rather than declined.

Government and Public Health Response

The study’s findings are prompting calls for stricter regulations to protect young people from substance abuse. Proposed measures include limiting the availability of nicotine and tobacco products and banning the advertising of such substances on mainstream and social media. The UK has already taken steps towards addressing the issue by planning to ban single-use vapes and implementing stricter controls on the sale of vapes to minors.

Looking Forward

This comprehensive report from the WHO provides a crucial snapshot of adolescent behavior in 44 countries, highlighting the need for targeted interventions to reduce substance use among youth. Understanding these patterns is essential for policymakers and public health officials aiming to develop strategies that protect young people from the potential harms associated with substance use.

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