Drugs in London

Jeremy: Oh relax. "Oh I'm Mark, I'm in the eighties, I'm dying of heroin in a puddle in the corner in an advert." Drugs are fine, Mark, everyone agrees now. Drugs are what happen to people and that's fine, so shut up. 
- Peep Show

Given how much the "drugs" issue has exercised some BC readers on threads like these, we thought you might be interested in this little bit of context, courtesy of the Economist (client).

The article challenges a few of the prejudices so-far expressed by BCers and points out that London is the most sober part of the country:

Surveys by the National Health Service show that Londoners aged between 11 and 15 are less likely to smoke than are youngsters in every other English region. They drink alcohol much more rarely and are no more likely to take illicit drugs. Another large-scale survey for the DfES rolls drink and drug use among young people into a single measure. Again, London stands out for its sobriety...

[One] explanation is that the capital contains a lot of immigrants from places where youthful drinking and smoking are rare—particularly the Indian subcontinent.... London’s odd social make-up may help to explain the pattern. In addition to an immigrant-heavy working class, the capital has a lot of affluent professionals, who may be unusually keen to steer their children away from mind-altering chemicals...

There is a more startling possibility: London represents the future. Alex Stevens, a criminologist at the University of Kent, points out that the capital generally leads drug trends. Heroin emerged in London and a few other large cities in the 1980s, then spread. So did cocaine... Having declined in London and risen everywhere else, the drug is now as popular in the far north of England as it is in the capital.

Britons have been hooked on drink and drugs for so long that it is hard to imagine them dropping the habit. But if the country were to become less intoxicated, the earliest signs of change would probably appear in the city.