More teenagers are using marijuana or vaping on a daily basis than smoking cigarettes, according to the results of a newly released National Institutes of Health survey.
Polling of 43,703 public and private school students from throughout the U.S. revealed that cigarette use among eighth, 10th- and 12th-graders has declined to the lowest levels since the NIH began conducting its Monitoring the Future Survey in 1975, the research agency said Thursday.
Marijuana use among students has remained mostly constant, meanwhile, making daily use more common among teens than smoking cigarettes, according to NIH.
Daily marijuana use exceeded daily cigarette use among eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders surveyed earlier this year, “reflecting a steep decline in daily cigarette use and fairly stable daily marijuana use,” the NIH said.
About 4.2 percent of 12th-grade students said they smoked cigarettes daily, while 5.9 percent said they use marijuana on a day-by-day basis, according to the survey.
Taking into account all three grades, 23.9 percent of respondents said they used marijuana within the past year, NIH said, up slightly from 22.6 percent in 2016.
“Use of traditional cigarettes has continued to decline to the lowest levels in the survey’s history,” NIH said. “Significant five-year declines-by more than half for daily use and for use of one half pack or more per day-were reported by all grades.”
“The survey confirms the recent trend that daily marijuana use has become as, or more, popular than daily cigarette smoking among teens, representing a dramatic flip in use between these two drugs since the survey began in 1975.”
The study also asked students for the first time in its history for their take on using vaporizers to inhale the mist of plants including nicotine and marijuana.
“Past-year vaping was reported by 13.3 percent of 8th-graders, 23.9 percent of 10th-graders and 27.8 percent of 12th-graders,” NIH said.
Most of the students surveyed said they either vaped nicotine or “just flavoring” over marijuana, according to the study.
Marijuana has been federally outlawed for decades, but laws legalizing the plant for either medical or recreational purposes are currently on the books in 29 states and D.C.
The Obama administration largely declined to intervene in states that legalized medical or recreational marijuana, while President Trump’s attorney general announced last month that his Justice Department is considering whether to revamp the federal government’s stance.
“It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month. “And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”
Nearly two-thirds of adults support legalizing marijuana, according to a recent Gallup poll.
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