Alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use among French school students in 2018
In 2018, two major international school surveys Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) and European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD), were carried out simultaneously for the first time in France, using a unified methodological framework. More than 20,000 middle school and high school students, representing 11 to 18-year-old adolescents attending secondary school in metropolitan France, were invited to answer an online questionnaire in class on their well-being and health behaviours, including their use of psychoactive substances. This scheme, which is unprecedented in Europe, makes it possible to measure this use among all students from Grade 6 to 12. Tendances No. 132 presents the prevalence of experimentation and use of the three most widely used substances during adolescence: alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, by school grade.
While adolescence is the main period where alcohol, tobacco and cannabis are experimented with, the timing and progression of substance use vary:
- Alcohol, which is mainly experimented with during middle school, is still the first substance used during adolescence, followed by tobacco.
- Cannabis, which begins to take off at the end of middle school, sees its experimentation and use develop and strengthen mainly during high school. It is still the most common illegal product, lifetime use of other illegal substances remaining really low.
EnCLASS data also confirms the wide accessibility to the products, despite the fact that it is illegal to sell tobacco and alcohol to minors.
Psychoactive substances, users and markets: 2017-2018 trends
Since 1999, the Emerging Trends and New Drugs (TREND) scheme of the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) has been monitoring emerging trends and phenomena in the field of drugs in order to limit the time between their occurrence and their consideration by the public authorities. The TREND scheme therefore provides a focus on people with high uses of psychoactive products. It is mainly based on qualitative data collected by the TREND sites network, located in eight metropolitan areas.
Tendances No. 129 highlights the developments that have particularly marked 2017 and the beginning of 2018:
- the impact of the unprecedented accessibility to cocaine, including in the form of crack cocaine,
- the fluidity between techno scenes and the crossovers of different party populations,
- the increase in the visibility of GHB-GBL use in party settings with lots of incidences of intoxication,
- the trivialisation of popper use in increasingly diverse user groups,
- and finally, the slowing down of the emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS), while their distribution seems to be focused on specific user profiles.
The second part is about continuing phenomena that have already been described in previous years, but that are still thriving: the integration of "chemsex" practices, the popularity of ecstasy tablets, the increase in the availability and visibility of ketamine use and the dynamic heroin supply.
Tobacco smoking and tobacco cessation in 2018
In the wake of the 2017 findings, the year 2018 was marked by a sharp decline in cigarette and of roll-your-own tobacco sales in France’s tobacconist network. However, a slight increase in other types of tobacco, less heavily taxed, can be seen, together with a likely increase in cross-border purchases.
In addition, all indicators related to quitting smoking are noticeably on the up, even more so than in 2017. Sales of treatments to help people quit smoking are at an all-time high, boosted by the implementation during the year of the systematic and non-capped reimbursement of prescribed tobacco cessation treatments. Moreover, use of the Tobacco Information Service telephone helpline/website continues to intensify and the third edition of #MoisSansTabac has confirmed the operation’s status as a highlight for smoking cessation among French smokers. Read our memo.
Cannabis legalisation and regulations in Canada
Following Uruguay in 2013, Canada is the second country in the world – the first in G7 – that has officially legalised the production, distribution and possession of cannabis for recreational use. Starting October 17, 2018, Canadian adults have been legally able to purchase recreational cannabis produced under licence, to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and, in most provinces, to grow up to four cannabis plants at home.
Canada is the first federal state to propose a decentralised model for the regulation of cannabis. The federal Cannabis Act has introduced an approach focused on public health and youth safety: it creates a strict legal framework to control the production, distribution, sales and possession of cannabis throughout Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial governments share responsibility for overseeing the cannabis regulation system. Conspicuously, provinces and territories have had to figure out their own regulation systems for the distribution and sale of cannabis and all related safety measures (for the minimum legal age, quantities and place of purchase or use, etc.), whereas municipalities have the possibility to control use at local level, even though it remains illegal to transport cannabis outside Canadian borders (regardless of quantity). The implementation of this reform involves various jurisdiction levels and diverse regulation systems across the country.
This overview describes the reform process, the objectives of the new legislation and the market control mechanisms implemented in Canada, before identifying the watch-points to be monitored.
French National report 2018
Each year, like all the other Reitox focal points in Europe, the OFDT submits to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) its national report on the state of the drug phenomenon in France.
The report is now divided in 10 workbooks: Drug Policy, Legal Framework, Drugs, Prevention, Treatment, Best Practice, Harms and Harm Reduction, Drug Market and Crime, Prison and Research. The 2018 report is available for downloading.
Levels of illicit drug use in France in 2017
Based on the findings of the 2017 Health Barometer Survey of Santé publique France (data processed by OFDT) which interviewed over 20,000 people aged 18 to 64 years, Tendances No. 128 describes the changes in illicit drug use and offers an overview of cannabis supply modes. Levels of use are presented according to the gender, age and professional activity.
In 2017, the proportion of cannabis lifetime users continued to increase in France, and now concerns nearly half of the adult population. While the proportion of current users in the adult population overall has not changed relative to 2014 (one in ten adults), growing regular use in the working population over 25 is becoming established, suggesting that cannabis use may no longer be exclusive to younger generations and could continue after entering the workforce.
In the same way as for cannabis, cocaine and MDMA/ecstasy use is observed, more frequently than before, outside the key age group of 18-25, reflecting the growing accessibility and availability of these substances.
Lifetime use of other illicit substances (other than MDMA/ecstasy and hallucinogenic mushrooms) remained similar in 2014 and 2017. Lifetime use of heroin or crack cocaine is still extremely rare in the overall adult population.
New psychoactive Substances - Ten-year overview of the situation in France
Ten years after the emergence of NPS, the available data reveal lower detection rates for new substances, and their use is still somewhat limited in France. This has not prevented these substances from gaining a foothold in certain user circles and occasionally being sought after by a wider audience.
Supply and dynamics of the phenomenon, substances used, user profiles, health consequences: Tendances No. 127 covers the overall developments observed concerning these drugs. This is based on the knowledge developed by the OFDT via its TREND scheme, SINTES, the I-TREND project, and all information sources used by the French Monitoring Centre.
Two aspects specific to France may explain the limited impact of NPS. Firstly, there are no physical smartshops in France. The absence of such stores in France has slowed NPS consumption, particularly for brand-name substances. Furthermore, the editorial policy of French-speaking online discussion forums also plays a protective role: members are requested to only use the chemical names of the substances. This limits the visibility and appeal of substances for young users, along with the spread of inaccurate information.
Tobacco use, sales and prices: a European perspective
The objective of Tendances No. 126 is to offer a glimpse into tobacco use in Western countries, using prevalence surveys, annual data on tobacco sales and average tobacco prices.
This is a complex undertaking as no international surveys have been conducted with a view to determining the prevalence of tobacco smoking in the population of each of these countries over the same year and, in particular, there have been no studies on current prices. Hence, comparison is only possible based on limited national or supranational surveys, not necessarily taking place over the same period or using the same methodology.
This Tendances thus brings these various data together, notably in the form of maps, to offer a comparison between the various countries and to put the situation in France into perspective.
Drugs and developement: new prospects ahead?
The objective of Drugs, international challenges N° 11 is to take stock of the relations sustained by drug control and development policies, initially returning to the concept of “alternative development” so as to clarify its intricacies and limitations. A second part explores the emergence of a new conception of the issue, drawing on lessons learned from previous setbacks.
After simply being secondary to eradication policies, alternative development is now envisaged more as an instrument of long-term strategies and socioeconomic integration policies adapted to the territories concerned, taking into account all aspects of the rural condition, together with the primary local drivers to illicit cultivation: ranging from access to land, to participation in political life, through viable integration in economic circuits. Although this general approach to drug control policy is still in the early stages, this new focus currently at work and its tentative applications in the field bring the possibility of a development-oriented drug policy to the table, as a legitimate and credible alternative to the strategies followed over the past forty or so years.
Drug use in 17-year-olds: analysis of the 2017 ESCAPAD survey
For the ninth time since the implementation of the ESCAPAD survey, the French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) and the Youth and National Service Directorate of the Ministry of the Armed Forces interviewed a sample of young people aged 17 years, taking part in the National Defence and Citizenship Day (JDC). In March 2017, 46,054 young participants completed an anonymous questionnaire on their health and psychoactive substance use. Since the first edition of ESCAPAD, in 2000, nearly 240,000 adolescents have been interviewed in this way. This survey, unusual owing to its large sample size, has proven to be a valuable instrument for shedding light on the evolution of substance use and addictive behaviours in late adolescence in France.
Tobacco smoking and tobacco cessation in 2017
The downward trend in official tobacco sales observed in 2016 has been confirmed in 2017 (characterised by a very powerful symbolic measure, plain packaging) with the marked decline in roll-your-own tobacco owing to its lower price. As in 2016, all indicators relating to tobacco cessation point to an improvement, with sales of tobacco cessation treatments reaching a record level, due to higher National Health Insurance Fund reimbursement rates. Furthermore, the Tobacco Information Service telephone helpline/website is attracting ever more users, as part of the growing appeal surrounding the second year of the #MoisSansTabac campaign. Read our memo.
Perceptions, motives and trajectories associated with drug use in adolescents
The ARAMIS study (Attitudes, perceptions, aspirations and motives surrounding the introduction to psychoactive substances) aims to explore the perceptions and motives for drug use among minors, and their trajectories for alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and/or other illicit drug use. Why do adolescents get to use psychoactive substances? Why do some develop substance use habits while others manage to limit their use? In order to explore these fundamental questions, a vast interview campaign was carried out between 2014 and 2017 among 200 minors with diverse social profiles, enhanced by direct observations. The sample includes the generation born between 1996 and 2002 (aged 13 to barely 18 years at the time of the survey), who grew up in the context of an economic crisis and endemic unemployment. Tendances No. 122 offers an initial summary of the results of this undertaking, which opens up numerous lines of reflection, helpful for prevention strategies.
Psychoactive substances, users and markets: recent trends (2016-2017)
Since 1999, the OFDT TREND scheme (Emerging Trends and New Drugs) has been monitoring current trends and those concerning emerging phenomena in the field of drugs. Based on the network of eight local TREND coordination schemes, it aims to identify, but also to understand the changes at work affecting user profiles, patterns and contexts of use and sale, together with the characteristics of substances and harms associated with their use.
Tendances No 123 (8 p.) presents the key findings of the seventeenth observation period, which focuses on 2016 and early 2017. Three aspects are highlighted as these correspond to new or recurrent situations which are a cause for concern on a health and social level: the purity and new-found accessibility of cocaine in France; the specific problem relating to unaccompanied minors1, who are made even more vulnerable by substance use behaviours; and the growing geographical areas with renewed heroin trafficking, now with a substance more appealing to users. The second part will touch on the continuation of phenomena already described in previous years: the spread of chemsex practices2; the extreme poverty facing homeless users; the newly blurred boundaries between diverse populations liable to facilitate the diffusion of psychotropic substance use; the ever-increasing violence in trafficking; the continuing changes in cannabis supply and, lastly, an update on new psychoactive substances. Other aspects will finally be touched on more briefly; these concern cannabis, fentanyl derivatives and the continuing growth in demand for paraphernalia for smoking crack.
Despite the significant changes in drug use and drug markets since the beginning of the 2000s, the already established phenomena seem particularly worrying. In particular, contrary to expectations at the beginning of the decade, NPS have not yet revolutionised the drugs sector in mainland France. The long-term use of some of these substances has, however, become established, notably with the radical increase in high-risk behaviours related to chemsex practices.
The 2016-2017 period is notably characterised by "classical" substance use and problems driven by contextual factors, which are always difficult to control, whether concerning the profitability of trafficking or the socio-economic crisis. Hence, the growing proportion of the herbal cannabis market; intensified cocaine diffusion; the changes in the heroin market; or the renewed popularity of ecstasy tablets among younger populations, as well as the precarious living conditions facing the homeless display a certain degree of continuity compared to previous years.
Drugs in Europe
What do the latest data tell us about the European drug market? What are the new trends in drug use among European adults and school students? What are the harms associated with drug use and what is being done to counter them? These and other questions are explored in the 2019 EMCDDA European Drug Report.
Country drug reports 2019
Developed by the EMCDDA, in cooperation with the Reitox national focal points, these graphic-rich reports cover: drug use and public health problems; drug policy and responses and drug supply.
The European Union and the drug phenomenon
The European Union & the drug phenomenon : Frequently asked questions, joint publication between the EMCDDA and the European Commission, october 2010, 12 p.