The number of children smoking, drinking and using drugs has fallen over the past decade, new figures from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre have revealed.

The survey of 6,500 schoolchildren aged 11-15 found that 17 per cent had tried drugs - down from 29 per cent in 2001. The number of children drinking was also down, with only seven per cent saying they drank regularly - down from 20 per cent in 2001. The number of children who had said they had tried alcohol also fell, from 61 per cent to 45 per cent.

Cannabis was the most popular drug, but levels of usage were down on 2001 levels with eight per cent reporting they had taken the drug in the last year compared to 13 per cent a decade earlier.

Only 25 per cent of children said they'd tried smoking, while only five per cent said they smoked at least one cigarette a week, compared to 10 per cent a decade ago.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre, said: "The report shows that pupils appear to be leading an increasingly clean-living lifestyle and are less likely to take drugs as well as cigarettes and alcohol.

"The findings also include for the first time more information about where pupils are accessing drugs and we can see they mainly get them from their peers.

"All this material will be of immense interest to those who work with young people and aim to steer them towards a healthier way of life."

Siobhan McCann, Head of Campaigns and Communications at alcohol education charity Drinkaware, said: "Drinkaware's own research* shows parents are the biggest suppliers of alcohol to young people aged 10-17 and also the biggest influence on their child's relationship with drink. Today's report provides even more incentive to parents to talk openly about alcohol with their kids and delay the age of their child's first drink for as long as possible.

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Story posted by Robert Mair on 26/07/2012