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Study Shows Teens Smoking Less Cigarettes, More Marijuana

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 5:33pm

Cigarette use among American teens has dropped to historic lows according to an annual study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Considering that 90-percent of adult smokers started when they were teens, the announcement suggests a non-smoking America may be possible someday.

The study finds daily cigarette use by teens is down among all three grades surveyed, eighth, tenth and twelfth, with the biggest drop of more than ten percent found among high school seniors. Not all of the news from the survey is good, however.

"The bad news is that we've seen a very disturbing use in hookah tobacco use and little cigars," says Dr. Tim McAfee of the Centers For Disease Control.

The so-called "little cigars" are just as harmful to health as cigarettes, and while the FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, the ban does not apply to cigars.

"They have flavoring like grape and peach that appeals to kids, and they are also able to get around taxation," Dr. McAfee points out, "so in many states they are much cheaper for kids to get."

Kids also seem to be getting marijuana. This year's study shows use among teens continued to climb to its highest levels in five years, with more than a third of twelfth graders admitting to using the drug over the past year.

"What's even more worrisome is the rates of daily marijuana smoking are at its highest since 1981," says Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, alcohol use fell, especially in the important "binge drinking" category. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications joined marijuana as the top "illicit" drugs abused by American teens again this year, a sign the fight to keep youth drug-free continues.
 

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