Scotland is worst in world for teenage boys smoking cannabis

Almost a quarter of 15-year-old boys in Scotland involved in the study said that they had tried the drug.

Scotland is worst in world for teenage boys smoking cannabis, WHO data reveals iStock

Boys in Scotland who are aged 15 have the highest rate of smoking cannabis, according to new data from the World Health Organisation.

Almost a quarter (23%) of 15-year-old boys in Scotland involved in the study said that they had tried the drug.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, the World Health Organisation (WHO) examined data from 280,000 children aged 11, 13 and 15 from 44 countries who were asked about their use of cigarettes, vapes and alcohol.

Children in Scotland and Wales were more likely to have smoked cannabis than any other country involved in the study.

From the Scottish sample, which involved 4,000 teenagers, 23% of 15-year-old boys said they had smoked cannabis within their lifetime, while 16% of girls the same age said the same.

Canadian girls ranked highest with 25% saying they had smoked the drug.

Of the sample, 13% of boys and 6% of girls in Scotland said they had used cannabis, also known as weed, in the last 30 days.

The survey also found that the UK seems to have more of an issue with under-age vaping than many other countries, with girls in the UK more likely to have used a vape by the age of 15 than the average for all 44 countries in the study.

Dr Jo Inchley, international co-ordinator for the study, called Health Behaviour In School-Aged Children, and from the University of Glasgow, suggested some of the UK data is concerning.

She said: “Vaping in the UK is higher than the average across all the countries that took part in the survey as a whole.

“I guess that’s a little bit concerning, and we’ve certainly seen quite marked increases in vaping in Scotland over the last four years… lifetime use of e-cigarettes has more than doubled in Scotland since 2018.

“So there’s two areas for concern. One is that our levels are higher than elsewhere in Europe and, secondly, it looks like the trends are worsening quite substantially over a relatively short period of time in the UK.”

Dr Inchley said one driver of increasing vape use may be their availability and low cost.

“Disposable vapes seem to be fairly readily accessible to young people and schools are reporting that that’s a major issue that they’re having to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Young people are telling us that too.

“Having ready access to any kind of substance like that obviously makes it more attractive and available, so that is a big issue.

“Some of the policy responses we’re seeing now from Governments across the UK is really positive in that respect, because we do need to address the issue of availability and accessibility.”

She said there have been declines in the proportion of children who say they have ever used cannabis, certainly in Scotland in recent years.

“We don’t see the same trends for what we call current use, or use of cannabis in last 30 days.

“We’re not seeing the declines amongst regular users like we do amongst more experimental users.

“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.”

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