Survey: Among Teenagers, E-Cigarettes Up, Marijuana Surprisingly Down

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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As marijuana legalization has taken states across the nation by storm, experts are concerned about usage rates, but an annual survey released Tuesday shows that both marijuana and tobacco usage have dropped significantly among teenagers.

The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, used a national sample of approximately 41,551 students across 377 secondary schools, finding that cigarette usage for teenagers is at its lowest point since 1975.

“This year’s Monitoring the Future data show promising signs on the declining rates of adolescent substance use, and reinforce the need to continue efforts on prevention, treatment, and recovery,” said National Drug Control Policy Acting Director Michael Botticelli.

As an example of how significant the decline has been, in 1997, 28 percent of students admitted to smoking in the previous month. In 2014, that number has plummeted to only 8 percent. Although only introduced in 2006, e-cigarettes have skyrocketed in popularity, and survey results indicate a steady increase with age. While 9 percent of grade 8 students said they used an e-cigarette in the past month, only 4 percent said they smoked a more traditional, analog cigarette.

In contrast, 16 percent of grade 10 students and 17 percent of high school seniors have used an e-cigarette in the past month. Regular cigarette usage fell to just 7 percent of grade 10 students. Many students who have tried e-cigarettes have never even tried analog cigarettes, but twice as many teenagers are using e-cigarettes over analog forms.

Many found it surprising when the survey revealed a slight dip in marijuana usage in the three grades surveyed, with the rate moving downward from 26 to 24 percent. Researchers pointed to the perception among students of declining availability rates as the reason for the decrease, since perceived health risks are unlikely to be the cause. Students seem less and less likely to think marijuana is harmful. Students also don’t disapprove of marijuana as much as they did last year.

“Prohibitionists often try to scare voters by raising questions about what kind of ‘message’ legalization will send to young people. This new federal survey shows that our opponents’ fears about youth marijuana use rising under legalization are wholly unfounded,” Tom Angell, Chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“In fact, only legalization allows for regulations that incentivize sellers to keep marijuana away from kids. In the prohibition-crated black market, on the other hand, dealers don’t care about the I.D. in teens’ wallets; they only care about the money in there.”

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