Teen Cigarette Smoking Declines, But More Americans Using Pot, Study Finds


Cigarette smoking among teenagers has declined significantly since 2002, but more people are using marijuana, according to a newly released report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The “2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the United States” — which measured substance use and mental illness statistics between 2002 and 2014—found that while tobacco use among young adults aged 12 to 17 declined by about 50 percent since 2002, along with a slight decrease in alcohol use for the same age group, marijuana use grew for adults aged 26 years and older.

The study, entitled: “Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” found that the percentage of tobacco users (which mostly accounts for cigarette smokers) 12 to 17 years old decreased from 13 percent in 2002 to 4.9 percent in 2014. While marijuana use decreased slightly among adolescents, from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 7.4 in 2014, it rose among people 26 years and older from 4 percent in 2002 to 6.6 percent in 2014.

The rise in marijuana use corresponds with a growing marijuana legalization movement in the U.S. in recent years.

The study also includes statistics on the nonmedical use of prescription drugs (the number declined slightly among teens but remained steady for adults 26 and older), heroin use (which grew slightly for all age groups) and cocaine use (which decreased for all age groups).

Examining the correlation between substance abuse and mental health, the SAMHSA study found that the number of 12 to 17 year olds who had a “substance use disorder” (SUD) and a “major depressive episode” (MDE) remained mostly steady between 2006 and 2014. The percentage of adults with an SUD and “serious mental illness” (SMI) also remained steady between 2008 and 2014.

“Behavioral health disorders, which include substance use and mental health disorders, affect millions of adolescents and adults in the United States and contribute heavily to the burden of disease,” wrote researchers Sarra Hedden, Joel Kennet, Rachel Lipari, Grace Medley and Peter Tice in the introduction to the study. The research was based on 67,901 interviews completed in 2014.

Read the study here.

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