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Cigarettes and alcohol: How young French people differ from older generations

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Cigarettes and alcohol: How young French people differ from older generations
Photo: AFP
12:49 CEST+02:00
A new report in France looks at how the younger generation are smoking and drinking compared to their parents and there was some good news that means the national stereotypes about the French may no longer apply.
France may not deserve its reputation as 'Europe's chimney' for much longer - at least if the new report from the French Observatory for Drugs and Addiction (OFDT) is anything to go by. 
 
The national survey on 11-18-year-olds and their relationship with substances threw up some surprising results, including that they are smoking less. 
 
Out of the 20,000 students who took part in the study, 21.2 percent of them said they had tried smoking compared to 27.8 percent in 2014. 
 
Most young French people try smoking for the first time in secondary school and unsurprisingly the number of pupils who have tried smoking increases the older they are.
 
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Will park and beach bans lead to France stubbing out its smoking habit?Photo: AFP
 
For example, most pupils in Year 7 (11-12-years-old) in France have never tried smoking however by the time Year 10 rolls around, when they are aged 14-15, 37.5 percent have taken their first puff of a cigarette.
 
The study revealed there is a particularly noticeable leap in the number of young people who have tried smoking between Years 8 (ages 12-13) and 9 (13-14) when the figure jumps from 14 percent to 26.1 percent.
 
Meanwhile young French people are also smoking less cannabis than previous generations, with just 6.7 percent of the 11-18-year-olds surveyed saying they had tried the drug compared to 9.8 percent in 2014. 
 
This percentage jumps for high school (ages 16-18), with a third of young French people in this age bracket saying they've tried cannabis and 6.8 percent of them saying they use it regularly.  
 
Vaping is however increasing in popularity, with just over half of 16-18-year-olds revealing having tried e-cigarettes (52.1 percent) compared to 35.1 percent in 2015. 
 
Alcohol is also popular among young French people, according to the survey. 
 
Nearly nine out of ten 16-18-year-olds have tried alcohol and nearly half of them (49.5 percent) said they have already been drunk, just one percent down on 2015 when 50.5 percent of young people in the same age range said they had been drunk. 
 
On top of that, regular drinking among 16-18-year-olds has risen, with 16.7 percent of those surveyed saying they drink alcohol at least ten times a month compared to 14.8 percent in 2015. 
 
The study points out that despite the ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors, these products seem very accessible to young people.
 
Serge Gainsbourg in his favoured pose with a cigarette. Photo: AFP
 
France is rolling out a series of smoking bans in parks and beaches in an attempt to crack down on the number of smokers. 
 
The Paris mayor's office made 52 of the capital's green spaces smoke-free on June 8th and in June 2018 Strasbourg banned smoking in all of the city's parks.
 
La Rochelle in the south west has announced that smoking will be banned on two of the city's biggest beaches: the plage des Minimes, and the plage de la Concurrence.
 
For more details on the public spaces where smoking is banned in France click here.
 
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