Report finds fewer young people smoking and drinking

There are signs more young people are behaving themselves — levels of smoking and drunkenness have fallen, a major report being published today reveals.

Also, the percentage of 15- to-17-year olds reporting they have never had sex has increased from 23% in 2010 to 27% in 2014.

However, the Health Behaviour in School Children 2015 report to be launched by Health Minister Leo Varadkar has found that one in five children do not wear car seat belts.

Many of the 13,611 children surveyed found it was very easy to buy cigarettes, or get someone else to buy them for them in most shops near their schools.

The survey, conducted in 230 primary and post-primary schools, is conducted every four years in collaboration with the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe.

It found physical activity has remained stable over the past four years even though there are signs children’s eating habits are improving.

Children are eating more fruit and vegetables and consumption of sweets and soft drinks has decreased.

The survey also found more girls, older children, and children from higher social classes are brushing their teeth every day or more frequently.

Mr Varadkar this week reaffirmed his personal commitment to having a sugar tax on soft drinks and revealed that he wanted the money raised by the tax to be spent on public health.

Mr Varadkar said he was over-ruled at Cabinet meeting where it was argued that the money raised should be a general tax.

The minister has also said that he is to press ahead with mandatory calorie posting after a survey by his department found just 7% of food businesses were providing the information on a voluntary basis.


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