Alcohol and tobacco environments and adolescents’ health behaviours: future talk on CRESH research in Edinburgh

Title: Alcohol and tobacco environments in Scotland and their relationship with adolescent behaviour

Presenter: Dr Niamh Shortt
Date: Thursday 25th July 2013
Time: 11:00 am
Venue: Seminar Room, Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP), 20 West Richmond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DX (next door to the Mackenzie Medical Centre)

Niamh will be presenting findings from CRESH’s recent work on tobacco and alcohol environments and their relationships with adolescents’ risky behaviours – research funded by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP).

Talk abstract:

Tobacco and alcohol use pose significant public health challenges and it is crucial that risky health behaviours in adolescence are tackled before they become habitual. Research has shown that those who start smoking at a younger age are more likely to become regular smokers in adulthood. Those that start drinking before the age of 15 are more than twice as likely to become substance-dependent, contract sexually-transmitted diseases, drop out of school and have criminal records. Policy-related proposals for both alcohol and tobacco harm reduction have included suggestions to limit the physical availability of outlets, but previous research into the relationship between tobacco and alcohol outlet density and related behaviours has resulted in mixed findings. Furthermore there is little UK-specific evidence and even less focus on adolescence. In this project we investigated how the smoking and drinking behaviours of 13 and 15 year olds are linked to the density of tobacco and alcohol retailers within their home and school neighbourhoods in Scotland. To do this we gathered data on the locations of all outlets in Scotland selling either tobacco or alcohol and using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques we created postcode-level measures of retail outlet density which we then joined to the 2010 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS). In this paper we report the findings from this study, including the association between the density of outlets and area-level deprivation and the relationship between outlet density and adolescent smoking and drinking behaviours. The results highlight the importance of considering supply-side interventions to minimise exposure and prevent adolescents engaging in related risky behaviours.

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