American teens are not only smoking less but are drinking less than their European counterparts. That's not to say American teens are angels as they, on average, use more illicit drugs than European teens.
Iceland may be the real winner in this new study of American and European alcohol, smoking, and drug usage. Iceland had the lowest percentage of teens that smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol while also having lower percentages of illicit drug usage than most European countries.
The studies European teens are based on the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future surveys of American teens between the ages of 15 and 16 on drug, alcohol, and smoking habits . For the American part of the survey, 15,400 students in 10th grade from 126 high schools were surveyed. The European study involved over 100,000 students who were nationally representative of the 36 European countries. Only the Germany, Russia, Flanders and Bosnia-Herzegovina surveys were not nationally representative which required a sub-national sample, which limited the accuracy of those country's numbers.
For American teens, 27 percent had consumed alcohol during the month prior to the study. On average for European teens drinking alcohol was much more common, with 57 percent reporting drinking alcohol 30 days prior to the survey. Iceland had the lowest number at 17 percent while the Czech Republic had the largest percentage at 79 percent.
The smoking results were similar to the alcohol results for American and European teens. In the survey, 12 percent of American teens reported having smoked in the 30 days prior to the study compared to 28 percent of European teens who reported smoking. Iceland only had 10 percent of its teens reporting that they smoked cigarettes in the month prior to the study.
Previously the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released their National Survey on Drug Use and Health which highlighted the decrease in teen and young adult smokers in America.
While the results are mostly positive for American teens, illicit drug use for American teens still remains a cause for concern. Marijuana usage in Americans was only behind France and Monaco in regards to the percentage of teens who had smoked marijuana or hashish 30 days prior to the study. For the survey, 18 percent of teens had reported smoking marijuana or hashish while on average that number was at seven percent for European countries. For France, the number was at 24 percent while Monaco was at 21 percent.
American teens were number one when it came to using any illicit drug other than marijuana in their lifetime with 16 percent reporting illicit drug use compared to six percent for European teens. Ecstasy and amphetamine use was also higher in American teens than all European teens. There were similar usage numbers between American and European teens when it came to inhalant, cocaine, crack, heroin anabolic steroid usage.
No matter which side of the Atlantic you live in, the news is both positive and negative. While the lower numbers for American Teens when it came to cigarette and alcohol usage or European teens when it came to illicit drugs, are encouraging there is still plenty of work to do.