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Young Czechs drink, smoke less, but still above European average

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Prague, Sept 20 (CTK) – Young Czechs, aged 16, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and use drugs less than in 2011, but their consumption is still above the European average, according to a European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) from 2015 released at a press conference on Tuesday.

A similar trend as in the Czech Republic is apparent in other European countries as well.

The ESPAD is the largest European study focused on the use of addictive substances by 16-year-old adolescents. The survey has been conducted every fourth year since 1995. Last time, 35 countries participated in it.

In the Czech Republic, the survey covered some 200 primary and secondary schools from all over the country.

More then 2,700 16-year-old students from the ninth grades of primary schools and the first grades of secondary schools filled in the forms.

The share of strong smokers smoking more than a half of a cigarette package a day in this age group has almost halved. In 2011, it was 8.2 percent, while last year, it was 4.5 precent.

The share of teenagers drinking five and more glasses of alcohol on one occasion has decreased from 20 to 12.1 percent.

“However, there is still a very low percentage of teetotallers among Czech adolescents since 96 percent of the 16-year-old youths have ever drunk alcohol,” Ladislav Csemy, national coordinator of the study, said.

The adolescent alcohol and cigarette consumption has declined in the past four years only, but in the case of drugs, this trend has been long.

The most frequently used drugs are based on hemp, such as marijuana, which one-third of respondents have tried.

Despite the positive trend of the past few years, the position of the Czech Republic in the ESPAD studies has not changed very much.

Young Czechs have long led the European standings in the consumption of marijuana and other hemp drugs, and in the alcohol and cigarette use they are above the European average, said Csemy.

The authors have been surprised by last year’s results and this is why they conducted another study to verify the decreasing trend this year, which confirmed it.

The decrease in the use of addictive substances among adolescents may be connected with the change of their lifestyle, their transfer to “the virtual world of social networks,” Csemy said.

“They spend much less time in real contacts with their schoolmates and friends of the same age,” he explained.

This study has for the first time focused on the Internet addiction.

About 10 percent of respondents said they had been gambling [on the web] in the past year. More than two-fifths of students spend more than four hours a day on the Internet on weekdays.

Experts do not know long-term consequences of such excessive Internet use yet, Csemy pointed out.

National anti-drug coordinator Jindrich Voboril has warned that one addiction may be just replaced by another one.

“The number of children playing for money has been rising. Gambling on the Internet is an issue that we will be dealing with much more than illegal drugs in ten years,” he added.

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