American teens are staying away from cigarettes in greater numbers than they have in generations. That’s among the good news in a new survey of more than 41,000 students published on Tuesday. But for the first time in a national survey, teens reported puffing on electronic cigarettes more than smoking conventional tobacco.
According to the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey, use of cigarettes, alcohol, and abuse of prescription pain relievers among American teens has declined since 2013, while marijuana use rates were stable.
However, use of e-cigarettes, measured in the report for the first time, is high.
Nearly 9 per cent of eighth-graders, 16 per cent of 10th-graders and 17 per cent of high school seniors said they had inhaled an e-cigarette in the past month, while 4 per cent of eighth-graders, 7 per cent of 10th-graders and 14 per cent of high school seniors said they had smoked a traditional cigarette, ‘New York Daily News’ reported.
“Despite the positive developments this year, we are concerned about the levels of e-cigarette use among teens that we are seeing,” said Lloyd D Johnston, principal investigator, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
Overall, 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools participated in this year’s MTF survey.
The MTF survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), measures drug use and attitudes among eighth, 10th, and 12th graders in the US.
The 2014 survey showed that past month use of smoked marijuana remained steady among eighth graders at 6.5 per cent, 10th graders at 16.6 per cent and 12th graders at 21.2 per cent.
Close to 6 per cent of 12th graders reported daily use of marijuana.
The findings related to prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse continued positive downward trends in 2014.
Past year use of narcotics other than heroin (which includes all opioid pain relievers) was reported by 6.1 per cent of high school seniors, compared with 7.1 per cent a year ago and markedly lower than the 2004 peak of 9.5 per cent.
“With the rates of many drugs decreasing, and the rates of marijuana use appearing to level off, it is possible that prevention efforts are having an effect,” said NIDA Director Nora D Volkow.
Alcohol use also continued its gradual decline in all grades. Eighth, 10th and 12th graders reported past month use of 9.0, 23.5 and 37.4 per cent respectively, compared to 10.2, 25.7, and 39.2 per cent last year.
There was a significant drop in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) in 2014 among high school seniors, which is now under 20 per cent.