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    At-risk behaviour among secondary students: Some habits improve, but new issues arise

    Montréal, March 11, 2021. – Drug, alcohol and tobacco use, gambling, and playing games of chance are all on a downward trajectory among Québec secondary school students—a trend that’s been observed for a number of years now. Yet new youth-related public health issues are on the rise: vaping and drinking sugary alcoholic beverages. These findings were published in the 2019 report on the Québec Survey on Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs and Gambling in High School Students, a survey conducted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec that began in 1998.

    Less use of tobacco products, more vaping

    The proportion of students who had used one or more tobacco products was 9% in 2019, compared to 12% in 2013 and 33% in the first edition of the survey in 1998. In contrast, vaping has grown in popularity: the proportion of vapers in secondary schools increased from 4% in 2013 to 21% in 2019. That proportion rises to 35% among Secondary 5 students.

    Use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, secondary students, Québec, 1998 to 2019

    Sources: Institut de la statistique du Québec, Québec Survey of Tobacco Use in High School Students, 1998 and Québec Survey on Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs and Gambling in High School Students, 2004, 2008, 2013 and 2019.

    Less drinking overall, but more risky drinking

    In 2019, 53% of secondary students had consumed alcohol in the 12 months preceding the survey. That’s a decrease from 2013, when the figure stood at 57%. More than half of those who drank in that period (56%) consumed strong, sugary alcoholic beverages.

    However, excessive, repetitive alcohol consumption increased. It stood at 11% in 2019, vs. 9% in 2013.

    Decline in drug use

    In 2019, 18% of secondary students had used drugs in the 12 months preceding the survey (24% in 2013).

    Cannabis, the most commonly used substance besides alcohol, has grown less popular in the past few years. In 2019, nearly 17% of the students surveyed said they had used cannabis in the past 12 months (vs. 23% in 2013). Less than 5% said they had used other drugs or non-prescribed medication to produce a drug-like effect.

    Games of chance and gambling less popular, except for online

    In 2019, approximately 21% of secondary students had gambled or played a game of chance in the year preceding the survey (25% in 2013). But the same games grew in popularity online: 8% had played online in 2019, vs. 6% in 2013.


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