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Vape use tripled since 2019, per AIHW

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The independent government agency also found, for the first time, that young women were as likely as young men to use illicit drugs in 2022/23.
vape use tripled

National vape use tripled between 2019 and 2023, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

It surveyed more than 21,000 people aged 14 and over to learn more about how Australians consume and think about drugs like alcohol, tobacco and illicit substances.

The independent government agency also found, for the first time, that young women were as likely as young men to use illicit drugs in 2022/23.

Here’s a closer look at the findings.

Vaping

According to AIHW data, half of 18-24-year-olds had vaped at least once. When users of all ages were asked if they currently vaped, 7% said they were active vapers in 2022/23. That’s compared to 2.5% in 2019/20, meaning vape use has tripled since 2019.

Smoking

High rates of vaping were contrasted by declining smoking rates, with daily smokers representing 8% of respondents in 2022/23. About 65% said they’d never smoked. Older people (aged 60+) were more likely to smoke, and the least likely to vape.

Alcohol

More than 30% of respondents said they consumed alcohol in a way that endangered their health in 2022/23. Men were more likely to drink at riskier levels than women, though levels have been declining. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in Australia.

Illicit drugs

About 20% of respondents used an illicit drug in 2022/23. Half admitted to consuming an illicit substance at some time in their lives. Marijuana was a commonly used illicit drug. Hallucinogens and ketamine use increased slightly over the last four years, while ecstasy use decreased.

Drug use by gender

For the first time since AIHW drug monitoring began in 1985, women aged 18-24 were just as likely to use illicit drugs in 2022/23 as their male counterparts (35% of both).

Cannabis and cocaine use rose significantly from 2019 to 2023 among young women.

Dangerous alcohol consumption rates among women increased last year to 40% up from 35% in 2019. However, men still consume more alcohol, with around 45% of respondents admitting to dangerous alcohol consumption levels in 2022/23.

Dr Gabrielle Phillips from the AIHW called smoking “the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Australia” and said a continued “decrease in the use of tobacco by people in Australia” was encouraging.

However, Phillips noted the increased uptake of vaping among young people.

She also noted that “despite updated guidelines to reduce alcohol-related harms, the proportion of people in Australia who drink alcohol at risky levels has not changed since 2019”.

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