This report presents the smoking findings from the 2015 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS). The research was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Ipsos MORI Scotland.
Survey background and purpose
SALSUS is a continuation of a long established series of national surveys on smoking, drinking and drug use. These were carried out jointly in Scotland and England between 1982 and 2000, to provide a national picture of young peoples' smoking (from 1982), drinking (from 1990), and drug use (from 1998) behaviours within the context of other lifestyle, health and social factors. Since 2002, Scotland has developed its own, more tailored survey, known as SALSUS.
About the survey
SALSUS is a self-completion survey administered by teachers in a mixed ability class, under exam conditions. In the past the survey has been completed on paper, but in 2015 half of the sample completed the survey online. Fieldwork was undertaken between September 2015 and January 2016.
Figure 1 Numbers sampled and participated
The overall response rate was 53% based on class and pupil response rate  .
For full details of the methodology please see the accompanying SALSUS 2015 Technical Report.
Prevalence and key trends
- Almost all 13 year olds (97%) were non-smokers. 2% were regular smokers and 1% were occasional smokers. Smoking was more common among 15 year olds but prevalence was still low: 7% were regular smokers and 5% were occasional smokers.
- Smoking prevalence has dropped markedly over time, since 1996 among 15 year old boys and slightly later (since 2002-2004) among 15 year old girls and 13 year olds. There has been a further small decrease in smoking prevalence among 15 year old girls between 2013 and 2015.
- Among 15 year old regular smokers, the mean (or average) number of cigarettes smoked in the last week was 44 for boys and 40 for girls.
- The mean age that 15 year olds (who had ever smoked) had first smoked a cigarette ('even just a puff') was 13 years and 4 months.
- Half (51%) of 15 year old regular smokers said they would find it 'very' or 'fairly' difficult to give up. 29% of 15 year old regular smokers said they would like to give up smoking but a little over half (55%) had tried to give up.
- 15% of 13 year olds and 32% of 15 year olds have ever used an e-cigarette. However, only a small proportion used them regularly: 1% of 13 year olds and 3% of 15 year olds.
- Between 2013 and 2015, there was a large increase in regular use of e-cigarettes among all groups except non-smokers (5% of 15 year old regular smokers in 2013, compared with 24% in 2015).
Availability and awareness of tobacco
- Among regular smokers, the most common sources of cigarettes were getting someone else to buy them and being given them.
- 43% of 15 year old regular smokers said they had bought cigarettes from a shop, supermarket or van in the last 4 weeks. A further 6% of 15 year olds said they had tried to do so but were refused.
- The proportion of regular smokers who said they usually got their cigarettes from newsagents has dropped markedly between 2002 (87%) and 2013 (23%) but little change overall since 2013.
Attitudes to smoking
- 42% of 15 year olds thought it was ok for someone their age to try smoking a cigarette to see what it's like. 13 year olds were much less likely to think it was ok (16%). The proportion thinking it is ok has declined markedly over time and continued to decline between 2013 and 2015.
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