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School pupils more likely to drink alcohol if they live with other drinkers

School pupils aged 11–15 in England are estimated to be more than three times as likely to drink alcohol if they live with other drinkers, a survey from The NHS Information Centre suggests.

The likelihood of a pupil drinking alcohol increases with the number of drinkers per household, according to; Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England, 2008.

For the first time in its history, the survey asked pupils about their household’s drinking habits. The percentage of 11-15 year old pupils who drank alcohol in the week prior to the survey was five per cent in non-drinking households, increasing to 31% in households with three or more other people who drank alcohol.

Pupils aged 11-15 are also estimated as more than twice as likely to smoke regularly if they live in a household with other smokers, with the likelihood increasing with the number of smokers per household.

Three per cent of pupils living in households where no-one else smoked smoke regularly, compared to just over a fifth of pupils who lived with three or more smokers.

Less than half of pupils said their family would disapprove of them drinking alcohol, while nearly all pupils said their parents would disapprove if they smoked.

The annual survey took place across 264 English secondary schools and surveyed nearly 7,800 pupils aged 11-15, representing an estimated population of around 3.1 million pupils.

It suggests a downward trend in the proportion of pupils aged 11-15 who try or regularly consume alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.

NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “Our survey provides valuable insight into the behaviour of young people and shows an apparent connection between their behaviour towards drinking and smoking and that of others in their household.

“Pupils think their families would disapprove much more of them smoking than drinking. Nearly all pupils aged 11-15 who answered the survey question said their parents would frown upon cigarettes, but just under half said the same about alcohol.”

NHS Information Centre