Why Kamloops and the Okanagan have high rates of teens using alcohol, drugs and having sex - InfoNews

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Why Kamloops and the Okanagan have high rates of teens using alcohol, drugs and having sex

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February 21, 2020 - 11:45 AM

Teenagers in the Southern Interior are well above the provincial average when it comes to the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana as well as vaping and sexual activity.

Annie Smith, executive director of the McCreary Centre Society, analyzed the 2018 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey and summarized her findings in regional reports.

“We consistently see, in communities where there’s a high number of immigrants, much lower alcohol use,” Smith told iNFOnews.ca today, Feb. 21. “We see much lower substance use in those communities."

"European kids who live in communities with a high number of immigrants don’t drink in the same way because their friends aren’t drinking so you see that kind of knock on effect," she said.

The survey has been done every five years since 1992 in most school districts in B.C. It’s given to students in Grades 7 to 12. In 2018, 38,000 students aged 12 to 19 responded.

Kamloops and the Okanagan are covered in separate regional reports that cover 10 school districts from Osoyoos to the Cariboo-Chilcotin. Many of the results in the two regions are almost identical.

In those regions 62 (Thompson) to 65 per cent (Okanagan) of students are from European backgrounds compared to a provincial average of 46 per cent.

On average, 18 per cent of teenagers in B.C. have smoked tobacco but that rate is 24 per cent in the Okanagan and 34 per cent in the Thompson region.

Vaping nicotine in the last month was 21 per cent provincially versus 28 to 29 per cent in the two Interior regions.

Between 53 and 56 per cent of kids had tried alcohol in these regions versus 44 per cent provincially, while 32 to 34 per cent had tried marijuana versus a provincial average of 25 per cent.

When it comes to sex, the provincial average is 20 per cent of teens who had sexual intercourse while 24 per cent in the Okanagan and 28 per cent in the Thompson region have had intercourse. A higher percentage - 27 to 28 per cent - had oral sex versus a provincial average of 22 per cent.

Smith said it’s mostly the same people engaging in both sexual practices.

A marked difference in the 2018 survey is that nine per cent are using withdrawal as a form of birth control compared to just four to five per cent in 2013.

On the flip side, students in the two Interior regions are more physically active with 56 to 57 per cent engaging in some informal exercise in the week before the survey versus 52 per cent provincially. And, 15 to 16 per cent participated in extreme sports versus only nine per cent provincially.

Smith also saw a connection to being physically active and drinking and vaping more.

“Consistently, we've seen kids who are playing on teams on regular basis, there’s often that alcohol culture attached to that,” she said. “Kids who are heavily involved in sports are vaping and that was shocking to me. But we went out and talked to people and they went: ‘It’s easy to do.’ You can be on the basketball court waiting to go on and you can quickly vape, which you couldn’t do with cigarettes.”

The survey was done before a number of people became sick and a few died from vaping.

The survey reports can be seen here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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