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Making the difference to the region’s young people

Mustard is delighted to share the headlines from the 2023 survey on behalf of its client – Trading Standards North West.

Mustard exists to make a difference, and the Mustard research team is immensely proud of the latest Trading Standards North West survey results. The data proves we are continuing to make the difference for our clients and their stakeholders, with the number of young people smoking in North West region falling to a record low.

Seeing the downward trends for smoking and alcohol use amongst young people within our home region is incredibly satisfying. Of course, more can be done – and will be done – particularly in regards to vaping, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Trading Standards North West to keep measuring the success of its initiatives.

The positive headlines

Mustard has partnered with Trading Standards North West on this important study since 2004, and there are numerous positive stories emerging from the latest 2023 data. The headline finding is the number of young people (aged 14-17) smoking in North West region falling to a record low of 6% – down from 22% in 2007.

In addition, alcohol consumption has also fallen with almost half of young people surveyed (48%) now saying they never drink.

The findings also show that levels of binge drinking among the region’s underage drinkers has fallen. In 2007, almost three in 10 (29%) of 14 – 17 year olds described themselves as regular binge drinkers, compared to 8% today.

Still, more can be done

The headlines are certainly positive, but the research also shows that more can be done to help young people live healthier and safer lifestyles.

  • There are still 52% of 14-17 year olds who DO drink alcohol which can affect the developing body and brain, affect performance at school and is associated with more risk taking behaviour.
  • While smoking and drinking levels continue to fall, there has been an increase in the numbers of young people vaping. 14% claim to vape more than once a week, compared to 6% in 2020. Respondents said that flavours are a key factor in tempting them to vape.

Despite positive trends, Trading Standards North West recognises that there is still a long way to go to stop dangerous products like tobacco which kill more than half of long-term users, ending up in the hands of young people in the region.

The 2023 survey also highlighted an increase in the percentage of young people claiming to buy alcohol from shops. It also found that between the ages of 12 and 14 are key ages to focus efforts on discouraging young people from trying and starting smoking and drinking alcohol.

Lisa Seamark is the Lead for Underage Sales at Trading Standards North West. She commented on the insights:

“It is positive to see that the national trend in lower numbers of young people smoking and drinking is reflected in our survey findings in the North West. We know that progress has been made when it comes to driving down underage sales of tobacco and alcohol, but we can’t be complacent. There is still much more that can be done to protect young people from tobacco and alcohol, which can cause significant harm at a crucial time in their development.”

“The rise in youth vaping is concerning and our findings show that disposables are by far the most used type of vapes amongst young people in the region. Almost 4 in 10 young people are buying e-cigarettes from shops and enforcement action will be taken against retailers who continue to sell to under 18s.”

“Selling any age-restricted product to someone underage is a criminal offence and while we know that the vast majority of retailers are doing the right thing, it’s vital that everyone understands the law and plays their part in protecting young people. If you have any concerns, please report them by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.”

Kate Pick, Regional Co-Ordinator at Trading Standards North West commented:

“Working with Mustard on the Young Person’s Alcohol and Tobacco research programme has really helped TSNW understand where, when, how and why young people access age restricted products and enabled us to ask the questions we need to answer to focus our very limited enforcement resources effectively.

We can see it’s made a difference. Knowing where, when, how and why young people access these products has helped us work with partners to bring those rates down – we’ve still got a job to do but we’ve come a long way thanks to the support we’ve had from Mustard.”

Mustard surveyed almost 14,000 14-17 year olds in the region to evaluate changing attitudes and behaviours towards drinking, smoking, vaping, shisha and knives. The survey is carried out every two – three years in the North West and distributed through schools in the region.

For more information on this quantitative research study, or if you are interested in learning more about Mustard’s credentials in this area, please contact Colin Auton or David Hickson.

Written by Colin Auton
Posted on 21st Apr, 2023