A new study completed by researchers at the University of Michigan using the Monitoring the Future Survey has discovered that Cigarette and Alcohol use by 8th, 10th and 12th grade students is the lowest it has been since 1975. The Monitoring the Future Survey is given to students each year and began in 1975.
While the decline in cigarette smoking is positive it is important to note that students are using tobacco at higher rates in other ways such as smokeless tobacco. The study also found that students using marijuana has increased. One example is 12th graders report an increase use of 6.6% from the previous year’s survey. The increase in marijuana use by students also correlated with declining perception of risk associated with marijuana use. Five years ago 25.9 percent of 12th graders reported perceiving a great risk with using marijuana. Results of the current study show only 22.7 percent of 12th graders perceiving a great risk. Among 8th graders perceived risk has decreased over the last five years from 48.9 percent to 43.4 percent.
While alcohol is the continued drug of choice among teens, binge drinking rates have decreased. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a row within two previous weeks for the purpose of this study. The rates of binge drinking have declined over the last five years.
While reduction in rates of cigarette use and binge drinking has declined, the researchers of this study point out the necessity of continued education about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the National Drug Control Policy pointed out that while these issues will still be viewed as public health issues and dangers, parents, as a powerful force in their children’s lives must get involved in educating their children about these issues.