Fewer Teens Smoking Cigarettes, But More Using Pot

Fewer Teens Smoking Cigarettes, But More Using Pot

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) — While worried parents may take comfort in new statistics that show smoking among American teenagers has dropped 64 percent in recent years, the same report also shows that marijuana use has doubled.

And plenty of youngsters still light up. A full 30 percent of white, black and Hispanic teens smoked cigarettes, cigars or marijuana in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. The researchers tracked teen smoking rates from 1997 to 2013.

“The nation’s remarkable progress in reducing youth smoking since 1997 is great news, but the battle is far from over,” said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“This study reminds us that we know exactly what to do to further reduce smoking: increase tobacco taxes, enact smoke-free laws, fund effective prevention programs and implement hard-hitting mass media campaigns. These proven strategies must be continued and strengthened,” Willmore added.

The researchers also called for targeted prevention programs and policies that involve parents, schools, communities and the media.

Overall, the number of teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars dropped from 20.5 percent to slightly more than 7 percent, while marijuana use went from 4 percent to 10 percent, the report found.

Notably, marijuana use jumped from 51 percent to 62 percent among those teens who smoked cigarettes or cigars, the findings showed.

By 2013, black and Hispanic students made up a considerable percentage of the increase in marijuana use, the investigators found. From 2009 to 2013, marijuana use among black teens increased from just under 11 percent to nearly 17 percent, while it jumped from 8.5 percent to just over 14 percent among Hispanic teens.

“Thus, public health advances in adolescent health resulting from lower cigarette and cigar use might be attenuated by increases in marijuana use, which vary by racial/ethnic subgroup,” the CDC researchers, led by Italia Rolle, wrote in their report.

Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, believes that more acceptance of marijuana as a harmless drug is driving its increased use among teens.

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