Beer drinking going to pot.
The nation is drinking less beer and smoking fewer cigarettes than a decade ago but marijuana use has risen, according to the report Statistics on Drug Use in Australia 2000.
According to the report, Australia ranked 9th in the world for beer consumption in 1998 with 200 pints per person per year. It had ranked 7th three years previously.
Researcher Megge Miller said she couldn't explain the drop in beer drinking.
The statistics showed that between 1991 and 1998, cannabis was the most commonly used illegal drug.
Some 39 per cent of Australians surveyed in 1998 had used cannabis at least once, up from 33 per cent in 1991.
Nearly half of all Australians aged 14 years and over had used illegal drugs at least once in their lives.
while 23% said they used an illegal drug in the year leading up to the study, the AIHW said.
The report showed that Australians smoked significantly fewer cigarettes between 1986 and 1996, lowering consumption to 2,017 cigarettes a year per person aged 15 years and over from 2,710 cigarettes.
The highest smoking rates were among those aged 20-29 years, with men more likely to smoke than women.
Almost 20% of the 10,000 people surveyed for the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) had used cannabis in the 12 months before the 1998 study, compared with just 9% in England and the United States and 8% in Spain.