Science

Teen smokers more likely to abuse alcohol, other drugs

Teens who smoke cigarettes are more likely to drink and abuse alcohol compared to their non-smoking peers, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Teens who smoke cigarettes are more likely to drink and abuse alcohol compared to their non-smoking peers, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse used data from a 2004 addition survey to look at alcohol and drug abuse among 15- to 19-year-olds.

Nearly 27 per cent of teens reported smoking cigarettes at least occasionally in the year before the survey.

Among this group, almost 98 per cent also reported drinking alcohol in the past year, compared with 75 per cent of non-smoking youth.

Of the youth who smoked, 91 per cent reported using cannabis in the past year, compared with 29 per cent among non-smokers in the same age group.

The findings show that tobacco use among youth is a powerful marker of other substance abuse, said Rita Notarandrea, director of research and policy for the centre.

"There is a strong message here for parents and educators to recognize the correlation between tobacco and other substance use, and to start a dialogue with young smokers about their use of alcohol and other drugs."

The association between youth smoking, drinking and illicit drugs is "very strong," the report said, but it does not indicate whether tobacco is a "gateway drug" leading to other drug use.

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