Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Teens Drink Less Alcohol, Smoke More Pot

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Teens Drink Less Alcohol, Smoke More Pot

Article excerpt

Marijuana use in teenagers is on the rise, while cigarette and alcohol use are stable or declining, according to health statistics researchers. In particular, black teens are using more marijuana than in recent decades.

"Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working--fewer teens are smoking cigarettes," says Stephanie Lanza, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. "However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes."

Lanza and colleagues analyzed data collected from U.S. high school seniors between 1976 and 2013. Nearly 600,000 students were surveyed. The team focused on information reported about the rates of use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana over the course of 37 years. Their report appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Students were asked about their use of the three substances in the 30 previous days. Overall, the researchers found a marked decline in cigarette use, particularly among white teens, and an increase in marijuana use, particularly among black teens.

In 1993, black adolescents were equally likely to use marijuana and cigarettes and have continued an upward trend in marijuana use since. White adolescents were more likely to smoke cigarettes than use marijuana until 2011, when marijuana usage slightly surpassed that of cigarettes. In 2013, nearly 19% of white teens smoked cigarettes, while almost 22% used marijuana. …

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