Swedes smoke and drink less

The number of regular smokers in Sweden has fallen again to a record low, according to a new report into the nation's drug use. People are also drinking less than before, the survey claims.

Only 12 percent of men and 17 percent of women between 16 and 84 claim to smoke every day, according to the survey by the Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN). The figure is the lowest since CAN first carried out its survey in 1980.

Under-age smoking was also down, with only 6 percent of boys and ten percent of girls in the final year of compulsory schooling (aged 15-16) saying they smoked daily. The figure is almost half that recorded in surveys in the early nineties.

Swedes are also drinking less, with the average person over 15 drinking the equivalent of 9.7 litres of pure alcohol a year. The figure is down 7 percent on 2004, when the figure was 10.4 litres. Last year, one fifth of alcohol consumed in Sweden was privately imported, 12 percent was smuggled or home-made, 17 percent was bought in restaurants or stores, and 53 percent was bought in the Systembolaget retail monopoly stores.

The report also looked at use of anabolic steroids. Use of the muscle-building drugs outside ‘gym culture’ has grown during the 2000s, CAN reports. The number of seizures of supplies of the drugs has increased and the number of convictions for using and supplying steroids is also up.

The supply of other illegal drugs is good and prices are stable and low, according to the report. There is insufficient data to give a clear picture of patterns of drug use among young adults, CAN said. In 2003, 17 percent of 16-24-year-olds said they had tried drugs. Most of those over 20 said they had first tried narcotics around the age of 18.

Few national studies are carried out on drug use among youngsters, CAN said, but added that research in schools indicated that school pupils aged 15-16 had less experience of drugs than in previous years.

CAN, which is rooted in Sweden’s temperance movement, describes itself as an independent organization that does not campaign on matters of alcohol or drug policy.