Youngsters in Essex say they choose cannabis over cigarettes because it is ‘much cheaper’

PUBLISHED: 15:56 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:03 03 September 2018

Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Archant

Cannabis is cheaper than cigarettes and smoked more often, say young people in Essex.

The YEAH!3 report, compiled by Healthwatch Essex, found a fifth of the young people they spoke to reported it being common practice at house parties.

They said the price of the drug was a major factor in making it more popular than other recreational activities.

A number of the participants said it was difficult to stop using cannabis once it became habitual but many felt they were not as well informed about the risks, as they were about smoking.

Some 75 per cent of respondents felt they had not received enough information on drugs and alcohol to make informed decisions and keep themselves safe.

Dr David Sollis, chief executive of Healthwatch Essex, said: “It is our responsibility to ensure that young voices across the county and their experiences of the health and social care issues that matter to them are heard.

“This particular finding was quite a surprising one from the report. Young people’s perception that cannabis is now more popular and considered more desirable than cigarettes, often because of cost, could help to inform the public health messages that may bring about change.

“We heard young people say that they picked up lots of information about drugs and alcohol from reality TV and entertainment shows.

“Those who had formal education on the topics said the sessions which patronised or used shock and fear tactics didn’t deter them.

“In fact doing this introduced a stigma of shame and criminality that would prevent them seeking support.

“But sessions introduced early in their education, including balanced information of the risks and how to keep safe, and hearing from a person in recovery from substance misuse, were most helpful.”

The report spoke to 717 young people over six-weeks and is the third in a trilogy of reports, completing three years of engagement with nearly 2,000 young people across Essex. To read the report visit: www.healthwatchessex.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/YEAH-3-Healthwatch-Essex.pdf

To hear audio of young people talking anonymously on this issue visit: https://soundcloud.com/user-50234963/cannabis-use-in-young-people.

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