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Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use among French school students in 2018

In 2018, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) and European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) were carried out simultaneously for the first time in France, using a unified scientific framework. 

More than 20,000 middle school and high school students, representing 11- to 18-year-old adolescents in secondary schools in metropolitan France, were invited to answer an online questionnaire on their well-being and health behaviour, including their use of psychoactive substances. This collaboration between surveys, which is unprecedented in Europe, makes it possible to measure this use among all students from Grade 6 to 12. 

A new publication, Tendances n° 132, presents the prevalence of experimentation and use of the three most widely used substances during adolescence: alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, by school grade.

While adolescence is the main period where alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are experimented with, the timing and progression of substance use vary:

  • Alcohol, which is mainly experimented with during middle school, is still the first substance used during adolescence, followed by tobacco.

  • The consumption of cannabis tends to begin at the end of middle school, with experimentation and use developing and strengthening during high school. It is still the most common illegal product, while the lifetime use of other illegal substances remains low.

  • The data also confirm the ready accessibility of the products, even though it is illegal to sell tobacco and alcohol to minors.

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item 5702
[12-09-2019 to 13-05-2020]


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