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Fewer Germans smoke, but ecstasy and crystal meth use rises

The number of smokers, especially among children and teenagers in Germany, has dropped, according to the government's latest drug report. But the number of first-time users of harder drugs has risen.

The proportion of 12- to 17-year-olds who smoke dropped below 10 percent for the first time since 1979, the government's annual report revealed on Thursday. In 2001, 28 percent of youngsters in Germany smoked.

For adults, the rate also dropped, but not by as much, with the number of active smokers still making up 24.5 percent of the population. Among those, 18- to 29-year-olds light up most often, with 40 percent of men and 47 percent of women consuming tobacco.

The report points out that smoking is the biggest preventable health risk in Germany, leading to 110,000 premature deaths per year and reducing life expectancy by an average of 10 years.

Synthetic drugs on the rise

While the overall consumption of heroin and other "classic" drugs is down, a heroin overdose is still the main cause of all

drug-related deaths

, which rose by 3 percent to 1,032 in 2014.

The number of first-time users of harder drugs went up by 5 percent, with the use of methamphetamine - or crystal meth - amphetamines and ecstasy increasing sharply. The use of synthetic drugs has been a rising trend since 2010, the report notes.

The report also says that more young people under the age of 25 are seeking help with problems relating to cannabis consumption. The drug remains the focus of Germany's efforts in both the prevention of and the education on drug abuse, the report states.

Annual alcohol deaths at 74,000

More people are being admitted to hospital due to alcohol-related complications, with the latest numbers showing a rise of 38 percent more men and 16 percent more women being treated between 2000 and 2013.

Alcohol consumption in general was down since 1995 among 18 to 59-year-olds, especially among men. Consumption among women, however, is on the rise, with those 24 and younger at increasing risk of addiction.

The report, however, stresses that among those men under 24 who do consume alcohol regularly, many consume "risky" amounts. In Germany, at least 74,000 people die as a result of alcoholism each year.

Gambling - a man's game

Men are at higher risk of gambling addiction than women, the report finds. Gambling halls, online poker games and sports betting are the most tempting gambling activities and have the highest potential for addiction.

In Germany, men aged 18 to 20 years most often frequent gambling arcades and use slot machines- their share rose to 23.5 percent in 2013 from 5.8 percent in 2007.

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