Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey: Information for parents

What is the survey about?

The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use survey has been running since 1982 and this year will collect information on the attitudes and experiences of more than 10,000 secondary school pupils. The research contributes to National Statistics which are used by government departments and local authorities to inform policy and plan services to help improve young people’s lives. Government users of the data include the Department of Health and Social Care, Public Health England, the Department for Education, and the Home Office. The survey asks pupils about their experiences of smoking, drinking and taking drugs, and how they make choices about them.

Who is carrying out the study and who is it being conducted for?

The study is being carried out by Ipsos MORI, a leading market research organisation which has extensive experience of carrying out surveys of young people. Ipsos MORI have been asked to conduct the survey by NHS Digital. NHS Digital has a responsibility to collect, analyse and publish health data, including that on young people’s health. The funding for the survey has come from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Why is it important to take part?

Your child’s help is really valuable in making sure we understand the lives of all young people. The results of the survey are used by the NHS, charities and Government, so they can make the right decisions about how to help young people. Your child’s involvement in this project will help to ensure the survey produces a nationally representative sample.

The survey is very high profile and has a significant impact on policy-making across government. It’s used by a wide range of government departments to design and monitor the impact of national and local policy: for example, it’s used by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, the Home Office and Public Health England. It’s also used by local government departments, charities, and industry groups that aim to protect children. To quote just one recent example: the SDD survey data was used to help make the case for the legislation implemented in 2015 which banned adults smoking in cars when children are present.

Why was my child selected to take part?

With the co-operation of the head teacher, your child’s school has kindly agreed to take part.
Your child’s class was chosen at random. Your child was not selected for any particular reason.

Will anyone see my child’s answers?

We can assure you that the questionnaires will be treated as strictly confidential. We do not ask pupils to put their names on the questionnaire, and no information about any individual will be given to school staff or anyone else; no one will be able to identify pupils, schools or local authorities from the results of the study.

How will the survey work?

Ipsos MORI will send an experienced, trained Study Administrator to administer the questionnaires. They will explain to pupils what the study is about, how to fill in the questionnaire, and ask for pupils’ consent to take part. Alternatively, if your child’s school has chosen to administer the survey themselves the session will be guided by a teacher. Taking part will involve your child being asked to complete a 40-minute questionnaire during one class period.

What are the questions about?

The questions in the study ask about pupil demographics, including ethnicity, as well as smoking, drinking and drug use behaviour, and attitudes towards these behaviours. The study is completely voluntary: pupils will be provided with information about the survey and given an opportunity to withdraw from taking part before they are asked to complete the questionnaire.

Is taking part compulsory?

No. Taking part is completely voluntary. Schools’ help is really valuable in making sure we understand the lives of all young people. The results of the survey are used by the NHS, charities and Government, so they can make the right decisions about how to help young people.

The pandemic has disrupted and changed many aspects of young people’s home and school life. There is now a great necessity to understand how health behaviours in young people have changed. By taking part in this study your child will help to identify some of the ways in which the pandemic has impacted on 11-16 year olds.

What happens if I do not want my child to take part?

If you would like to withdraw your child from this study, please contact their form tutor as soon as possible. Please note, your child will still be required to attend school on that day.

What happens to the findings?

The findings from the survey will be written up in a report, which we plan to publish on the NHS Digital website in summer 2022. Pupils’ answers will be combined with more than 10,000 other people's answers and only anonymous data will be reported, so they will not identify any schools, pupils or local authorities that take part. The results will be presented in statistical reports including breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity in a way in which no individual child or school can be identified. This data file will be added to the UK Data Service, which is a website that holds data for hundreds of the UK’s most important research studies. Researchers will be able to look at the data but they will not be able to identify which schools or pupils have taken part in the study.

Previous national level results can be found here:

Your school will be emailed a short report with information on how their data compares to the national averages. The data in the report will not allow readers to identify individual respondents.

Data and confidentiality

This research complies fully with GDPR and the Market Research Society Code of Conduct. Taking part in this survey is voluntary. See below for more information about GDPR.

Ipsos MORI will store respondents’ information securely and keep it confidential. The name and address of your child’s school and the name of the class groups that took part will not be passed on to any other organisation, and will be deleted within three months after the end of the project.

Pupils do not write their names on the questionnaire, and therefore will never be identifiable to the study research team nor in any data collected. Answers to the questionnaire will be used for research purposes only, and will be combined with those of others that take part in the survey. Only anonymous statistics will be reported.

All of the research is carried out in line with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct. Everything that respondents tell us will be treated in complete confidence, which means that no-one at your school will ever see pupils’ answers. You have the right to contact the MRS or ICO if you wish to complain about any aspect of this research.

More information about GDPR

The survey has been reviewed by NHS Digital to ensure it is GDPR compliant.

a.  Reasons of public interest in the area of public health (article 9, para 2i).
b.  Archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes in accordance with Article 89(1) (article 9, para 2j).

Who can I contact if I have any further questions about SDD or am interested in taking part?

You can email a member of the survey team, at, or call 020 3059 5318. You can also visit: for more information about the survey, how the data are used and what happens to the findings.

The links below provide more information and contact details for any further questions you may have.