HEALTH BEHAVIOUR IN SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN (HBSC) IRELAND

World Health Organization Collaborative Cross-National Study


The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey is a WHO collaborative cross-national study that monitors the health behaviours, health outcomes and social environments of school-aged children every four years. HBSC Ireland surveys school-going children aged 9-18 years. The study is conducted by the HBSC Ireland team, based at the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway.

Trends in age of initiation of smoking and drinking alcohol 1998-2018

Children were asked at what age they first smoked a cigarette (more than a puff). Findings are presented for the percentage of 15-17 year olds who reported ever smoking and reported having smoked their first cigarette aged 11 or younger, 13 or younger and 15 or younger.

Children who ever had an alcoholic drink were asked how old they were the first time they had a drink. Findings are presented for the percentage of 15-17 year olds who reported that they tried their first alcoholic drink aged 11 or younger, 13 or younger and 15 or younger.

 

Key Findings:

  • Between 2002 and 2018 there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of young people aged 15-17 who had ever smoked that reported having smoked their first cigarette at age 13 or younger (61.0% in 2002; 32.1% in 2018)
  • Between 2002 and 2018 there was a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of young people aged 15-17 who had ever drunk alcohol that reported having their first alcoholic drink at age 13 or younger (42.1% in 2002; 16.4% in 2018).

 

The data visual below presents findings by gender and age of initiation or by gender and social class at age ≤13.

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