Alcohol and Tobacco Use Declining Among Teens as Cannabis Use Rises

John Vibes
September 9, 2015

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(ANTIMEDIA) A study recently published by researchers at the University of Michigan has shown that cannabis use among teens and college students is increasing while alcohol and tobacco use is declining. In fact, for the first time ever, the rate of daily cannabis use has now surpassed the rate of daily cigarette use.

The researchers conducted a series of surveys that asked young people questions about their drug and alcohol use, which they were able to answer anonymously. The project was called the “Monitoring the Future” study and included data from college students all over the country.

The findings indicated that 6% of college students reported using cannabis on a daily basis, which is the highest rate since the project first began in 1980. The rates of teens using cannabis once or more in a month rose from 17% in 2006 to 21% in 2014 while occasional use of once a year or less rose from 30% to 34%.

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students, and this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors,” Lloyd Johnston, the study’s lead researcher said.

While correlation does not always equal causation, the rate of alcohol and tobacco use has decreased while marijuana use has increased, potentially signifying that young people are likely choosing marijuana because they now know and understand it is a healthier choice.

In the year 2000, 67% of college students said they had consumed alcohol at least once in the month preceding the survey, but now that number is down to 63% — and both figures are a drastic decrease from the 82% figure recorded in 1981. The study also indicated that regular drinking, or “binge drinking” has also significantly declined, from 44% to 35% in the past 24 years.

Still, “Despite the modest improvements in drinking alcohol at college, there are still a sizable number of students who consume alcohol at particularly dangerous levels,” Johnston cautioned.

The study also found that cigarette use has declined from 31% in 1999 to 13% in 2014. Furthermore, only 5% of those surveyed said they smoke cigarettes on a daily basis.

“These declines in smoking at college are largely the result of fewer of these students smoking when they were still in high school. Nevertheless, it is particularly good news that their smoking rates have fallen so substantially,” Johnston said.

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes may also be a major factor in the recent decline in cigarette smoking, as well. Regardless, it is good news that young people seem to be choosing cannabis over tobacco and alcohol because it is far safer (despite its illegal status in many states) and does not cause nearly as many problems as legal drugs do.


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