4 million Russian children and young people aged 11 to 24 abuse drugs; about 1 million of them are drug-dependent, Russian Education Minister Vladimir Filippov told a Monday press conference at RIA Novosti.
As compared to 1999, the number of drug-addicted teenagers and youths dropped by 33%, while the number of people committing crimes under the influence of drugs dropped by 41%, he said.
Nevertheless, drug trafficking and drug abuse remains an acute problem.
Apart from drugs, more and more children and young people get involved with alcohol and tobacco. 50% of people belonging to the 11-24 age group are smokers. Alcohol consumption rates keep growing too. According to statistics, 80% of young people drink alcoholic beverages, including beer.
Children and teenagers begin smoking and drinking at an earlier age than they did 10 years ago. Nowadays, they taste their first cigarette at the age of 11.5, have their first alcoholic drink at 13, and get introduced to drugs at 14 /instead of the former figure of 17.5 years/.
According to Filippov, children and young people spend about 2.5 billion US dollars on drugs every year. At the same time, the country spends an annual of 90 million dollars on anti-drug events, including measures to combat drug crimes, treatment and preventive measures.
So far, Russian competent bodies did not display enough efficiency in trying to keep international drug mafia off the Russian market. The Chief Department for Combating Contraband of Russia's State Customs Committee estimates the potential profitability of the Russian drug market at 500%. "Given this advantage, the drug mafia will take any risk," Filippov emphasized.