More college students prefer pot instead of cigarettes, according to a nationwide study conducted on American university campuses.
The ‘Monitoring for Future’ survey has been carried out for the last 35 years by University of Michigan researchers, who showed that marijuana smoking has stopped being a taboo and is on the rise among students, surpassing the use of cigarettes. Moreover, there has also been an increase in the number of people turning to other dangerous drugs or to tobacco alternatives like hookahs or e-cigarettes.
According to the study which analyzed more than 1,000 respondents, approximately 40% of college students had used illicit drugs in the last 12 months, compared to 34% in 2006, although the figure is still a bit lower than in 2013 (41%). Half of the subjects hadn’t turned to drugs in the last year, and three quarters hadn’t resorted to them in the last month.
The rise in recreational drug use witnessed in the last decade is mostly due to more people using pot, ecstasy, amphetamines and, to a lesser extent, cocaine.
More students have turned to amphetamine in order to boost mental activity and enhance academic performance, while cocaine has also been making a worrying comeback. On the other hand, binge drinking, synthetic marijuana use, heroin and LSD have become less popular.
The number of pot smokers who use it on a daily basis in college campuses (at least 20 times in the last 30 days) has increased recently, although it hasn’t yet equaled 1980 figures, when it stood at 7.2%. So far, it has reached 5.9% of the total student population in 2014, 2.4% up from 8 years ago.
This is visibly higher than the number of cigarette smokers, especially considering their downward trend in recent years: 5% in 2014, a significant change since 1999 when around 1 in 5 students used to have a daily smoke.
Similarly, secondary-school students are also using marijuana more than before, and just 35% of high-school grads aged 19 to 22 believe regular pot use poses a health risk, down from 55% in 2006.
Those who prefer electronic cigarettes have also become more numerous: 9.7% of the students used them at least once a month, while the number of middle and high-school students opting for this alternative has tripled in 2014 compared to the previous year, as evidenced by the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The number of hookah (water pipe) users has also doubled, and a possible explanation for the popularity of such unconventional alternatives is the fact that they are usually flavored and some of them don’t even have a tobacco taste.
Based on these findings, it is obvious that traditional smoking has been recently replaced by new options, but it can’t yet be established if the trend will continue.
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