Thursday, May 23, 2024

Young Girls in the UK Drink, Smoke, and Vape More Than Boys, Study Finds

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A comprehensive study by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals a concerning trend among young girls in the UK—they are more likely to engage in drinking, smoking, and vaping than their male peers. This research, one of the largest of its kind, involved an analysis of data from 280,000 children across 44 countries, focusing on ages 11, 13, and 15.

Key Findings:

  • Higher Rates Among Girls: In the UK, girls aged 13 and 15 are found to be more likely to drink, smoke, and vape compared to boys of the same age. Notably, two-fifths of girls in England and Scotland have tried vaping by age 15, which is higher than their counterparts in other countries like France, Germany, and Spain.
  • Recent Vaping Trends: The study highlighted that 30% of 15-year-old girls and 17% of boys in England reported vaping in the past 30 days, indicating higher usage rates than in other countries, including Ireland, Canada, Portugal, Spain, and Denmark.
  • Global Comparisons: England ranks “top of the charts” globally for child alcohol abuse. Additionally, the UK’s rates of drunkenness are particularly high among girls when compared to other European nations.

Concerns and Implications:

The increase in these behaviors is alarming, as it suggests a trend not just of experimental use but of regular consumption that can have significant health implications. Dr. Jo Inchley from the University of Glasgow, the international coordinator for the study, expressed concerns about these findings, emphasizing the need for urgent attention to these rising trends, which seem to be worsening over time.

Government Response:

In response to these findings, the UK government has emphasized the health risks associated with smoking, vaping, and underage drinking. There are strict age restrictions on the sale of these products to protect young people. The government is also working towards creating the UK’s first smoke-free generation with the introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill. This legislation aims to make it an offense to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009, and includes measures to limit the appeal of vapes to children, such as restricting flavors, packaging, and displays.

The study serves as a critical reminder of the importance of monitoring substance use trends among youth and implementing effective public health strategies to mitigate these risks. The full details of the research can be found in the linked resources and discussions on the implications for public health policy.

Read more about the study on Sky News.

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