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SMOKING

Italian teens are Europe’s biggest smokers

Repeated attempts by the Italian government to cut down on teen smoking don't seem to have had a great effect, according to a new survey which showed Italian students smoked significantly more than their peers.

Italian teens are Europe's biggest smokers
Almost 2 in 5 Italian teens are 'habitual smokers'. Photo: Pexels

In Italy, 37 percent of 14-16-year-olds said they had smoked in the past month – the highest rate of all 35 European countries surveyed, and well above the average of 21 percent.

The survey by Espad (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs) saw students from 35 European countries, with the UK and Germany not included, questioned about their use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

Across the continent as a whole, teenage smoking was on the decline, and an average of 54 percent had never even lit a cigarette.

Those who did smoke were also taking up the habit later in life, except in four countries including Italy, where the number of children starting to smoke before reaching 13 had increased over the past decade. The other three countries bucking the trend were Cyprus, France and Romania.

Iceland and Norway had the lowest rates of teen smokers, with six and ten percent respectively describing themselves as 'habitual' smokers.

The other area where Italians scored highly was cannabis consumption; 21 percent admitted to consuming it, a figure much higher than the average of 16 percent. However, Italy's students were only the third biggest users of the drug. the Czech Republic topped the table with a figure of 37 percent, followed by France at 31 percent.

Italy introduced a set of laws aimed to curb smoking earlier this year, including more warnings on packets, and licence bans for shops found to be selling cigarettes to under-18's.

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DRUGS

Italian Eurovision winner tests negative for drugs

Damiano David, the frontman of Italy's Eurovision winners Maneskin, has passed a drug test he took on Monday to clear his name after speculation that he had snorted cocaine at the song contest's grand final.

Italian Eurovision winner tests negative for drugs
Damiano David of Maneskin performs at the Eurovision final. Photo: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP

A drug test was “voluntarily undertaken earlier today by the lead singer of the band Måneskin which has returned a negative result seen by the EBU”, the European Broadcasting Union announced on Monday evening. 

“No drug use took place in the Green Room and we consider the matter closed,” the EBU said in a statement, adding that it had checked all available video footage as part of “a thorough review of the facts”.

READ ALSO: Italian Eurovision winners ‘really offended’ by accusations of drug use

David, who was shown on camera leaning over a table backstage in what some speculated could be drug use, had strongly denied the allegations. 

He said the footage showed him sweeping up some glass broken by one of his bandmates.

Måneskin with their trophy after winning the final of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Photo: Sander Koning / ANP / AFP

There had been calls for “total transparency” from officials in France, which came a close second in the song contest, after the clip went viral following Saturday’s final in the Netherlands.

The French minister for Europe said that drug use should be grounds for disqualification, though the head of France’s public broadcasting group said they did not plan to challenge the result.

David told interviewers he was “really offended” by the speculation, which he said had marred Italy’s first Eurovision victory in 31 years.

“We are alarmed that inaccurate speculation leading to fake news has overshadowed the spirit and the outcome of the event and unfairly affected the band,” the EBU said, adding that it was looking forward to “a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest in Italy next year”.

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