By Andrew Starke
Australians are smoking less but using more illicit drugs while results are mixed on the consumption of alcohol, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
In a study – 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey – released today (July 27), the national health agency found both good and bad news on liquor consumption.
The research found that the proportion of the population aged 14 years or older who consumed alcohol daily declined between 2007 (8.1 percent) and 2010 (7.2 percent).
More teenagers (12 to 17 year olds) are also abstaining from alcohol (61.6 percent) than consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months (38.4 percent) and the proportion abstaining increased significantly from 2007 (54.5 percent).
However it found there was little change in the proportion of people drinking alcohol at levels that put them at risk of harm over their lifetime (20.3 percent in 2007 and 20.1 percent in 2010).
Another conclusion was that 7 percent of recent drinkers changed their drink preference over 2010 with a noticeable shift away from pre-mixed spirits or RTDs, particularly amongst those under 29.
There was also higher support in 2010 (compared with 2007) given to alcohol measures related to venues, such as restricted trading and limiting the number of venues.
Abstainers and those drinking at low risk levels were unsurprisingly more likely than risky drinkers to support policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm.
”While there is some good news for Australia in terms of alcohol consumption, around one in five people still drink at levels that puts their health at risk over their lifetime—over two standard drinks a day on average—and this proportion remains unchanged since 2007,” said AIHW spokesperson Brent Diverty.
The survey found the proportion of people aged 14 years or older smoking tobacco daily has dropped to 15.1 percent, down from 16.6 percent in 2007.
”This continues a downward trend in tobacco use which is encouraging as tobacco smoking is the single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia,” said Diverty.
The largest falls in daily smoking were among people in their early twenties to mid-forties.
To read the full report, click here.