The number of people who have taken illegal drugs in the last year has fallen to the lowest point since records began, according to an official survey.
Just over eight per cent of adults (2.7 million people) said they took an illicit drug last year, down from 12.3 per cent in 2003/04 and 11.1 per cent in 1996 when data was first collected.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales also found that the proportion of adults who had taken a class A drug in the last year fell from three per cent to 2.6 per cent.
And among adults aged 16 to 24, the number had almost halved since 1996.
The survey is based on interviews with 21,000 adults.
Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne said the report is “really positive news”.
Daily Express columnist Ross Clark said the Home Office figures challenge the view that drugs should be decriminalised.
He said: “The pro-legalisation of drugs lobby has been quiet this week, perhaps because its favourite argument – prohibition doesn’t work because it only encourages people to take drugs – has been undermined.”
A former Chief Constable recently warned that celebrities and grandly-named groups are using “flawed” and “inaccurate” information in their push to legalise drugs.
Dr Ian Oliver said: “Accurate information has been submerged by an abundance of deliberately false statements”.
He supports efforts to reduce dependency and misuse, rather than encouraging and facilitating drug-taking.
Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson co-signed a letter with Caroline Lucas MP and others to The Times in June, calling for an “alternative drug strategy” and saying the current policy “pointlessly criminalises people”.