For the second year in a row, more teens reported using marijuana in the past 30 days than the number that reported smoking cigarettes, according to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey released by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
There were more past-month marijuana smokers in each of the three age groups surveyed: students in eighth grade (8 percent), 10th grade (16.7 percent), and 12th grade (21.4 percent). By comparison, 7.1 percent of eighth graders, 13.6 percent of 10th graders and 19.2 percent of 12th graders reported smoking cigarettes.
At the recent height of youth cigarette smoking – in 1997, when 36 percent of 12th graders reported using them monthly – 21.2 percent of youth that age reported using marijuana. Five years earlier, 27.8 percent were monthly cigarette smokers and 11.9 percent smoked marijuana.
The steady decline in youth cigarette smoking has come to a halt and may be going the other way. This year saw increases in the percentage of eighth and 10th graders who reported smoking cigarettes within the past 30 days.
The increase is not statistically significant for this year, but lead researcher Lloyd Johnston said he fears the nation could see a generational trend back toward smoking.
“Smoking is a habit that tends to stay with people for a long time, leading to ongoing differences between different graduating classes of students that persist into adulthood,” he said in a statement.
Click here for all of the findings from the Monitoring the Future Survey.