Canadian Girls and Scottish Boys Have Highest Rates of Teen Weed Use

A quarter of Canadian girls and nearly as many Scottish boys have smoked weed at some point, leading a survey of youth substance use conducted in more than 40 countries around the globe.

A recent World Health Organization study of youth substance use shows that Canadian girls and Scottish boys have the highest rates of cannabis use among 15-year-olds in Europe, Central Asia and Canada, according to data collected in 2022.

Overall, the study shows that cannabis use among teens has declined slightly, with the percentage of 15-year-olds who have ever smoked cannabis falling from 14% in 2018 to 12% in 2022. Among 15-year-olds, 6% reported having used cannabis in the last 30 days.

The research by the World Health Organization (WHO) examined survey data from 280,000 children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 44 countries on three continents about their use of alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes and cannabis, making it the largest study of its kind to date. 

25% of 15-Year-Old Canadian Girls Have Smoked Weed

A quarter (25%) of 15-year-old Canadian girls interviewed for the study said they had smoked cannabis at some time in their lives, while 21% of Canadian boys said the same. Scotland took the top spot for cannabis use among 15-year-old boys, with 23% saying they had smoked weed at some point, while 16% of girls the same age said they had done likewise.

The survey data from Scotland included interviews with 4,000 teenagers. Dr. Jo Inchley of the University of Glasgow, who worked as international co-ordinator for the study, said the high ranking of Scottish boys identified by the research is “concerning.”

“We’re not seeing the declines amongst regular users like we do amongst more experimental users,” she told the BBC. “Compared with other countries, we’re still relatively high and 15-year-old boys in Scotland have the highest levels of cannabis use across the study as a whole. That’s concerning. So, even though we’ve seen these decreases, we are still relatively high compared to other countries.”

The study also examined young people’s use of alcohol, which was determined to be the most commonly used substance among teens. More than half (57%) of 15-year-olds surveyed said they had tried alcohol at least once, while nearly 4 in 10 (37%) indicated they had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.

The research also found that overall, the use of e-cigarettes by young people has surpassed cigarette smoking, with 32% of 15-year-olds surveyed reporting e-cigarette use at some point and 20% in the past 30 days. Nearly one in ten 11-year-olds said they had used a vape at least once, rising to 26% of boys and 40% of girls by age 15.

In Scotland, 40% of 15-year-old girls and 33% of boys have used an electronic cigarette. Of those, 30% of girls said their use was in the 30 days before the survey, while a fifth of boys (20%) said the same. English girls vaped at a similar rate as Scottish girls, with both countries reporting higher rates than many other countries including France, Austria, Germany, Albania, Spain, Canada and Norway.

“Vaping in the UK is higher than the average across all the countries that took part in the survey as a whole,” said Inchley. “Steep increases in vaping among young people in the U.K. threaten to reverse some of the positive trends we’ve seen in substance use in recent years with overall declines in alcohol use and cigarette smoking since the 1990s.”

“Rates of vaping have doubled in the last four years among girls in Scotland,” she added. “Vapes are far too readily accessible to young people and the health risks are underestimated. New legislation to ban single-use vapes is an important step forward but further action is needed to address these worrying trends.”

WHO Says Youth Substance Use ‘Concerning’

The WHO characterized the popularity of substance use among young people as “concerning,” with more than half of 15-year-olds saying they have tried alcohol and a fifth saying they have used e-cigarettes. The new data from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2022 study also reveals a narrowing gender gap in substance use, which WHO officials say emphasizes the need for targeted prevention strategies. 

“The widespread use of harmful substances among children in many countries across the European Region – and beyond – is a serious public health threat,” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement about the research. “Considering that the brain continues to develop well into a person’s mid-20s, adolescents need to be protected from the effects of toxic and dangerous products.” 

“Unfortunately, children today are constantly exposed to targeted online marketing of harmful products, while popular culture, like video games, normalizes them,’ he continued. “WHO/Europe is working with countries to ensure all young people, everywhere, get the best possible start in life. This means protecting them from toxic and addictive products that could affect their quality of life in the years ahead.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts