Teen Smoking at Historic Lows, but Marijuana Use High

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Teen Smoking at Historic Lows, but Marijuana Use High

Cigarette and alcohol use among teens is at the lowest level in decades, but marijuana use is on the rise, according to the latest "Monitoring the Future" survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

Just under 19 percent of high school seniors said they smoked cigarettes in the past month compared to a peak rate of 36.5 percent in the mid-1990s. Rates of cigarette smoking among all teens surveyed decreased compared to last year's results.

Although alcohol remains popular among teens, rates of underage and binge drinking showed significant declines, researchers said.

Overall, cigarette and alcohol usages by teens are at the lowest points since the first survey was taken in 1975.

Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year -- a sharp contrast to a dramatic decline that occurred in the preceding decade. Daily marijuana use is at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors, the survey found. Among 12th graders, 36.4 percent said they smoked marijuana in the past year and 6.6 percent reported daily use, it found.

Monitoring the Future is an annual survey of eighth, 10th and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and is of three major surveys used by federal health officials to monitor data on youth substance abuse.

Source: Reuters