Pot More Popular Than Tobacco Amongst High School Students
June 9, 2012

Pot More Popular Than Tobacco Amongst High School Students

More teenagers are smoking marijuana than cigarettes, according to the results of a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released on Thursday.

According to Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press (AP), the CDC's 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) revealed that 23% of high school students reported they had recently smoked pot, versus just 18% for cigarettes.

"For decades, the number of teens who smoke has been on the decline," Stobbe explained in an article published Friday. "Marijuana use has fluctuated, and recently rose. At times, pot and cigarette smoking were about the same level, but last year marked the first time marijuana use was clearly greater."

However, in a June 7 press release, the CDC reported that high school students have demonstrated "significant progress" over the past 20 years in many other areas, including driving safety. From 1991 through 2011, the percentage of teenagers who rarely or never wore their seatbelts decreased from 26% to 8%, while the percentage of those who had gotten into a car with a driver who had consumed alcohol sometime in the past 30 days dropped from 40% to 24%.

"The percentage of high school students who had driven a car during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol decreased from 17 in 1997 to 8 in 2011," the CDC said, while "encouraging improvements were also shown in the percentage of students wearing a seat belt, not riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol and not driving a car when they had been drinking alcohol" had also been recorded from 2009 to 2011.

"Despite this progress, the YRBS found that the use of technology among youth has resulted in new risks; specifically, 1 in 3 high school students had texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days," they added. "The survey also found that 1 in 6 had been bullied through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting during the past 12 months."

The CDC said that 2011 marked the first time the survey included questions relating to the issues of cyber-bulling and texting and/or emailing while operating a motor vehicle. More than 15,000 high school students from throughout the United States participated in the YRBS study.

“We are encouraged that more of today´s high school students are choosing healthier, safer behaviors, such as wearing seat belts, and are avoiding behaviors that we know can cause them harm, such as binge drinking or riding with impaired drivers,” Dr. Howell Wechsler, the director of CDC´s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement.

"However, these findings also show that despite improvements, there is a continued need for government agencies, community organizations, schools, parents, and other community members to work together to address the range of risk behaviors prevalent among our youth," he added.