Use of Alcohol, E-cigarettes Among Adolescents ‘Alarming’, Says WHO Report

Thu Apr 25 2024
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark: The World Health Organization’s (WHO) European branch has expressed concern over the increasing use of alcohol and e-cigarettes among youth.

The widespread use of alcohol and e-cigarettes among youth is “alarming”, said a WHO report released on Thursday, recommending measures to limit access.

Based on survey data from 280,000 young people aged 11, 13 and 15 in Europe, Canada and Central Asia, the world body said it showed a “concerning picture” of substance use among young people.

“The long-term consequences of these trends are significant, and policy-makers cannot afford to ignore these alarming findings,” the world health body said.

The report found that 57 percent of 15-year-olds had drunk alcohol at least once, for girls the figure was 59 percent, compared to 56 percent of boys.

The WHO observed that overall drinking had decreased for boys, while it had increased for girls.

“These findings highlight how available and normalised alcohol is, showing the urgent need for better policy measures to protect children and young people from harms caused by alcohol,” said WHO Europe — which gathers 53 countries including several in Central Asia.

The WHO report also recorded the increased use of e-cigarettes — often called vapes — among adolescents.

In a statement, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said that the widespread use of harmful substances among children in many countries across the European Region -– and beyond -– is a serious public health threat.

He called for imposing higher taxes to restrict availability and advertising. He also sought a a ban on flavouring agents.

Stating that substance use at an early age is linked to a higher risk of addiction, the report said the consequences are costly for youth and society.

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