Drinking and smoking are at their lowest rates in five years among Fairfax County teens.
That’s the findings of the newest Fairfax County Youth Survey of eighth, 10th and 12th graders.
The annual survey, whose 2015-2016 results were recently released, examines behaviors, experiences, and other factors that influence the health and wellbeing of the county’s youth.
Students’ participation in the survey was voluntary and anonymous.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County School Board co-sponsor the survey to collect information about youth behaviors, both positive as well as those that are harmful.
The survey was administered in November, 2015, and resulted in valid responses from 33,276 students.
Some of the key findings:
More than one-third of Fairfax County students (35.8%) reported drinking alcohol at least once in their lifetime, ranging from 16.9% of eighth-grade students to over half of twelfth-grade students
All of the overall rates for alcohol use (lifetime, past month, and binge drinking) were the lowest reported in the past five years. The lifetime prevalence rate decreased 9.7 percentage points since 2011, while the past month rate decreased by 5.6 percentage points and binge drinking in the past two weeks decreased by 3.4 percentage points.
Thirteen percent of the students (13.1%) reported smoking cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, ranging from 5.4% of eighth-grade students to over one-fifth of twelfth-grade students (22.4%).
Lifetime and past month prevalence rates for cigarette use were the lowest reported in the past five years. The lifetime prevalence rate decreased 7.5 percentage points since 2011, while the past month rate decreased by 4.1 percentage points.
Marijuana was the second most commonly used substance by Fairfax County students overall. One-fifth of the students reported using marijuana in their lifetime (19.2%), ranging from 4.4% of eighth-grade students to over one-third of twelfth-grade students (36.4%).
Ten percent of the students (10.3%) reported using marijuana in the past month, ranging from 2.0% of eighth-grade students to one-fifth of the twelfth-grade students (20.0%).
Both lifetime and past month prevalence rates for Fairfax County students overall were lower than the national comparison data for alcohol, marijuana, cigarette, and inhalant use.
The overall rate for binge drinking also was below the national rate, as were the past month prevalence rates for e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and Ecstasy use.
To see more stats on sexual activity, physical activity, depression and other public health issues, read the entire youth survey on Fairfax County’s website.