The number of 15 and 16-year-olds smoking, drinking, gambling and taking drugs has declined in Ireland over the past 20 years according to a European report.

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs, released today, surveyed over 90,000 students last year in 35 countries.

While the report finds the prevalence of alcohol use among schoolchildren in Ireland has fallen by 15 percentage points over 20 years, Irish students are still among those who drink the most in the EU.

Beer and spirits are consumed most, with cider accounting for a quarter of total alcohol consumption.

Irish students who used cannabis said they did so on average once a month and also felt drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy to be freely available.

Ireland also was among the group of countries with the highest use of new psychoactive substances among secondary school students.

More than one in ten Irish students said they gambled frequently in the previous 12 months, with five times as many boys gambling as girls.

The number of schoolchildren smoking decreased in almost all countries surveyed, including Ireland, in the past 20 years.

The study found that more boys than girls smoke in Ireland.

The report also says children use the internet on average six days a week and the development of patterns of addictive use among children and adolescents needs to be closely monitored and investigated.

The ESPAD Group has also expressed concern over the popularity of online gaming and youth gambling.

It says measures to prevent adolescents from developing problems associated with gambling, such as debts, psychological deficits and social disadvantages, are of high priority.