Irish teenagers smoking and drinking less

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Story from The Irish Times

Figures from the State of the Nation’s Children Report


Smoking and drinking is down among Irish teenagers, while girls remain more vulnerable than boys to obesity, according to the report.

“The percentage of children aged 10-17 who report never smoking has increased from 50.8 per cent in 1998 to 73.5 per cent in 2010,” it says.

However, Traveller children, those with disabilities or chronic illness and poor children are more likely to smoke and drink.

The proportion of Traveller 10- to 17-year-olds who smoke in 2010 is 58 per cent; of immigrant it is 74.2 per cent; of children with disabilities it is 70.3 per cent; and of children in the poorest social classes five and six it is 70 per cent.

The proportion of 10- to 17-year-olds who had been drunk at least once in the last 30 days fell from 20 per cent in 2006 to 18 per cent in 2010.

However, 34 per cent of Travellers aged 10 to 17 had been drunk in the past month, 21 per cent of those with disability or chronic illness, and 19 per cent in the poorest social classes.

Border region

Teenage drinking was highest in the west (21.5 per cent) and lowest in the Border region (15 per cent).

Cannabis use at least once in their lifetime was reported by 10 per cent of all children aged 10 to 17; by 27 per cent of Traveller children in the age group, and 12 per cent of those with a disability/chronic illness.

The number of births to teenage mothers decreased by 36 per cent between 2007 and 2011 to 399 in 2011.

The rate was highest in Co Louth at about nine births per 1,000 being to a teenage mother.

In terms of self-esteem, 57.3 per cent of children aged 10-17 reported feeling happy with themselves, although girls and older children were less likely to.

The figure fell from 75 per cent of nine-year-olds to 49 per cent of 15-17 years.


Just 40 per cent of girls aged 15-17 were happy with themselves, compared with 57 per cent of boys.

Suicide was consistently higher among boys between 2007-2011 (15 per 100,000 suicides in 2011 were by boys, compared with four per 100,000 by girls), while self-harm rates between 2007-2011 were twice as high among girls (2.6 per 1,000 presentations of self-harm at hospitals as among boys at 1.3 per 1,000).

Rates of physical activity varied hugely between genders and ages. While in 2010, 53 per cent of 15- to 17-year-old boys were physically active for at least 60 minutes per day on four days in the past week, just 29 per cent of girls were in the same age group.