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The first-ever UK-wide survey of teenage patterns of drinking, smoking and illicit drug use is to be conducted by the University's Alcohol Research Group.

The survey, funded by the Alcohol Education and Research Council, will collect information from 15 and 16 year-olds in a representative sample of 70 state and independent schools using a standardised, anonymous questionnaire.

The survey is part of a collaborative European study planned for March and April 1995 and in addition to the UK will involve Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey and the Ukraine.

The exercise has been initiated by the Pompidou Group, an organisation founded in 1971 to foster joint international action on drug-related problems. Initial findings are expected by late summer 1995.

The UK survey will be carried out under the direction of sociologist Professor Martin Plant and psychologist Dr Patrick Miller of the Alcohol Research Group.

Professor Plant explains, "Available evidence suggests that although youthful alcohol consumption may be fairly stable in Western Europe, heavy drinking is a chronic and serious problem.

"In some Eastern European countries alcohol consumption and its related problems seem to be escalating alarmingly. A depressing number of adolescents are still taking up tobacco smoking and it is evident that involvement with illicit drugs is rising rapidly in many countries.

"This survey is the first concerted European attempt to gather comparative data on such teenage behaviours. It is hoped that this will serve as the initial step towards the routine monitoring of important topics of health concern."

University of Edinburgh, UK