An annual study (PDF) of U.S. teens’ drug-using habits, published Wednesday by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, found that the number of teens who say they’ve recently used marjuana has exploded since 2008: so many, in fact, that they now outnumber teens who’ve recently smoked cigarettes.
While the Partnership’s report, published May 2, does not specifically highlight this startling fact, it does place the number of high school students who’ve smoked marijuana in the last month at 27 percent, which represents a whopping 42 percent increase since 2008.
That’s in contrast with an analysis conducted by the Center for Disease Control, which studied 10 years of reporting from the National Youth Tobacco Survey and found in 2009 that teens who’ve reported smoking cigarettes in the last month had hit an all-time low of 17.2 percent, down from 28 percent in 2000.
The Partnership’s report adds that almost half of American teens (47 percent) have used marijuana at least once, which represents a 21 percent increase over the 2008 study. The CDC, on the other hand, noted that in 2009, 30 percent of high school students reported having experimented with cigarette smoking at least once, down from 39 percent in 2000, while about 24 percent had used a tobacco product (including chewing tobacco) recently, down from 34.5 percent.
So at this point, we've finally got more teens who have tried pot than have tried cigarettes. This tells me two things: One, state and national efforts to get teens from starting on cigarettes are working. Two, more teens are turning to pot because frankly it's probably cheaper in most states than a carton of cigs and it's still less addictive. Now, the study finds there are still way more regular cigarette smokers among high school seniors than regular pot smokers, but more teens are trying pot now.
I think this is going to be more of a long-term trend as states continue to raise cigarette taxes and pot laws get relaxed. Whether or not that's a good thing or a bad thing, I couldn't tell you, I don't partake of either.