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New obstacles to teen’s healthy lifestyle

© UNICEF/2012/A.Trotska

Kyiv, June 12, 2012 - Today, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a result of a survey “European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs” (ESPAD), which confirms the easy availability of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs for students in Ukraine, and shows some reduction of abuse of these substances among youth in the last four years.

According to the research, teen's use of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs is significantly high: 64 percent of girls and boys aged 15-17 years have smoked, 87 percent have tried alcohol and 25 percent have used marijuana or hashish. Only 20 percent of adolescents have correct knowledge about how HIV infection is transmitted.

"Although the data on smoking, consuming alcohol and drugs shows some decrease in the spread of these bad habits, compared with a previous survey, there's still a necessity for preventive activities and for their impact in schools, regardless of their types," said Yukie Mokuo, UNICEF Representative in Ukraine.

A study conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Studies of O.Yaremenko provides useful information for anyone concerned with the health of the young generation in Ukraine. It also addresses the decision makers, parents, service providers, young people, NGOs and the media.

Smoking. According to the survey, 74 percent of boys and 61 percent of girls have tried smoking. Among respondents, every sixth boy and every fourteenth girl smoked more than six cigarettes a day for a month. 36 percent of students (47 percent boys and 27 percent girls) smoked for the first time before the age of 13 years. 15 percent of boys and 8 percent of girls began smoking daily before age of 15 years. One of the biggest reasons for the prevalence of smoking is the availability of cigarettes: 51 percent of boys and 44 percent of girls believe that they can easily get cigarettes, if necessary.

The data shows a positive trend: from 1995 till 2011, the number of boys, aging from 15 to 16 years, who smoked during the duration of 30 days, decreased from 51 percent to 35 and from 28 to 24 percent respectively, among girls. A similar trend is observed among those who began smoking at age of 13 or earlier: from 2003 to 2011, the share of those boys decreased from 15 to 9 percent, and the share of girls decreased from 5 to 4 percent, accordingly.

Alcohol. The results show that the number of young people aged 15-17 years who consumed alcohol at least once has reached 87 percent. The first encounter with any alcoholic beverage happens at the age of 13. 40 percent of students experienced intoxication in the last 12 months and every 12th child aged 13 or younger had previously experienced a state of "being drunk".

Drinks that are low in alcohol content and beer are among the most accessible to students of Ukraine: 68 percent of teens indicated they could easily get low-alcohol drinks and 61 percent mentioned the same concerning beer.

Compared with the results of previous studies, there has been a gradual decrease in alcohol consumption among youth. During the last 12 months, 78 percent of teenagers consumed alcohol (compared to 84 percent in 2007) and in the last 30 days - 56 percent (versus 61 percent in 2007).

The popularity of low-alcohol drinks has also increased: 32 percent consumed them during the recent party in 2011. Girls mainly preferred the consuming of champagne, low-alcohol drinks and wine, while the boys tended to prefer beer and strong beverages.

However, the results show that the amount of pure alcohol consumed has increased. During the recent party the gross amount of alcohol consumed by the youth equaled to 44 grams (55 grams for boys and 42 grams for girls) among youth aged from 15 to 17 years

10 percent of teens reported that an accident or trauma occured as a result of drinking (compared with 7% in 2007), and 8 percent had unprotected sex after consuming alcohol (3% in 2007).

Drugs. 25 percent of students have experience in the use of illicit drugs. The most common drug used is marijuana or hashish: 12 percent of students tried cannabis at least once. 3 percent of respondents used ecstasy and had experience in the use of "smoking" mixtures. 2 percent of students had their first encounter with marijuana or hashish at the age of 13 years or earlier, and 5% percent before they reached the age of 15.

Importantly, 11 percent of teenagers believe they can easily obtain marijuana or hashish (15 percent of the boys and 8 percent of the girls). 16 percent of the boys and 12 percent of the girls reported they had a chance to try marijuana or hashish once or twice, but did not do it (in 2007 numbers were 34 percent among boys and 23 percent among girls, respectively).

The study found that the main places to obtain marijuana and hashish are first and foremost discos and bars, then "points" on the streets or in parks, at a ‘drug traffickers' home, through online orders and school.

The results show that the prevalence of marijuana or hashish use among students aged 15-16 years, which had been increasing between 1995 to 2003, has changed its direction, and was decreasing from 2007 to 2011. While in 2003, 29 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls stated that they have tried any kind of drug at least once in their lifetime, in 2011 this percentage decreased to 18% and 8%, respectively.


ESPAD is a sociological survey of the 5th wave (previously held in Ukraine in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011) within the project "European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs» (ESPAD), which was conducted among 7702 scholars / students (3,355 boys and 4,157 girls) aged 15-17 years in rural and urban secondary schools, vocational schools and colleges of I-II, and III-IV accreditation levels.

The study was conducted by the Ukrainian Institute of Social Studies of O.Yaremenko and supported by UNICEF in Ukraine in the framework of an international project, completed in 36 European countries. Compared with data about the behavior of young people from other countries, there is no indicator on which Ukrainian teenagers would occupy the leading position. The level of alcohol consumption among Ukrainian teenagers coincides with the average data -85 percent while the average for 36 countries is 87 percent. The prevalence of smoking in the last 30 days is 29 percent among Ukrainian youth, which is slightly higher than average for 36 countries (28 percent). There is also a tendency towards decrease in drug substances among Ukrainian youth.

About UNICEF: UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is the world leader in protecting the rights and interests of children. The Fund operates in over 190 countries to protect and support children from an early age and to adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF mission in Ukraine commenced in 1997. More info:
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For more information please contact: Julia Yurova, UNICEF Ukraine, +38-044-254-2450,



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