London, Nov 23 (UNI) Britons have overtaken Americans for the first time as the biggest cocaine users in the developed world, thanks to the drug becoming cheaper and easier to access.
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said nearly one in 20 Britons took cocaine last year as it replaced cannabis, ecstasy and speed as the most fashionable choice of drugs among young people, the Daily Mail reported.
Figures revealed that 4.9 per cent of British men and women aged between 15 and 34 used the drug last year -- about 800,000 young people.
In America, the percentage of young people that used cocaine over the same period was 4.8 per cent.
The cocaine boom, which sees consumption among British youths as more than twice the European average of 2.4 per cent, has forced analysts to warn that the drug may be starting to have ''a major impact on public health''.
''Many users are also using other substances including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and stimulants other than cocaine,'' the report said.
''This kind of polydrug consumption can lead to elevated health risks,'' it warned.
Mr Mary Brett of the campaign group Europe Against Drugs said older teens were turning to cocaine instead of cannabis.
''Cocaine is cool, it's getting cheap, and cannabis is out of fashion. A lot of teenagers understand now that cannabis causes psychosis,'' he said.
Deaths caused by drugs across Europe are no longer falling, the report said.
It revealed that across the continent there are between 7,000 and 8,000 deaths related to drugs each year, ''with no downward trend detectable in the most recent data''.