U.S Teens who prefer pot and vaping experience a decrease in smoking, drinking and drug abuse, study finds

An annual nationwide survey conducted shows that there has been a decrease in smoking, drinking and drug abuse among teens in US.

The survey findings showed that about 1 in 3 middle and high schools students have used some kind of illicit drug in their life, compared to the figure of 43%, from two decades ago.

Compared to the 1990s, where 58% students smoked cigarettes at least once, and 46% students drank, the figure came down to 17% and 26% in 2017.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “The rates of drug use among teenagers in our country are the lowest they’ve ever been for some drugs.”

However, there has been an exception to this study. Marijuana. Findings of the survey showed that even though there has been a decline in the use of other drugs, the proportion of teens that have tried marijuana has remained steady throughout the decade.

The survey was conducted in 380 middle and high schools across the US, and about 45,000 students took part in it. The survey was conducted by the University of Michigan’s ‘Monitoring the Future’ study which was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


Teens all over America are now adopting a more accepting attitude towards the consumption of marijuana. However, 64.7% high school seniors say they disapprove its regular use. The value declined from 68.5% from last year. Only 14.1% seniors now believe that there is a ‘great risk’ in smoking marijuana, which has declined from 40.6% in 1991.

Use of marijuana among teens have increased in 2017 as 37.1% seniors have tried the drug at least once, 25.5% sophomores and 10.1% 10th graders. The main factor behind this is the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use. High school seniors in marijuana legalized states have consumed more marijuana (16.7%) than states where it is yet to be legalized (8.3).

The most common method of consuming marijuana is vaping. 10% of 12th graders, 8% of 10th graders and 3% of 8th graders have vaped marijuana this year.

Cigarette smoking

Many teens view cigarette smoking as more dangerous than marijuana. 86.6% teens disapprove of a daily smoking habit, whereas 74.9% of 12th graders believe it to be dangerous. The numbers have decreased sharply from the 1990’s when teen smoking was at its peak, with 24.6% seniors smoking every day, 18.3% 10th graders and 10.4% 8th graders.

Volkow said, “This is a major accomplishment because cigarette smoking among teenagers is predictive of very adverse health outcomes.”

Nicotine Vaping

Vaping seems to have replaced cigarettes in 2017 as 19% high school senior’s vape nicotine, 16% sophomores and 8% eighth graders. Volkow warned that the embrace of vaping nicotine might portend a future risk in cigarette use.

Other tobacco

Due to the increase in vaping nicotine, other drugs, and tobacco use has gone down. Interest in hookah pipes have also decreased from 23% to 10% for all age groups. Other forms of smokeless tobacco such as snus have also fell to 3.5% students saying they used smokeless tobacco in the last month.


There has been no significant change in the consumption of alcohol for any grade students compared to last year. 33.2% high school seniors have used alcohol in the past month, 19.7% sophomores and 8% eighth graders. The numbers are still far lower than 1991 when 54% seniors, 42.8% sophomores and 3.7% eighth graders binge drank.

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