When college students take a smoke break, it’s more than likely that they aren’t smoking a cigarette. In fact, they’re probably picking up a pipe.
Studies show more teens and young adults regularly smoke marijuana instead of cigarettes, which illustrates a new trend in the adolescent and undergraduate age group.
The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research conducts an annual Monitoring the Future study, which has collected data about full-time college student’s drug and alcohol use since 1980. The study is meant to be a nationally representative sample.
“Monitoring the Future is an ongoing study of the behaviors, attitudes, and values of American secondary school students, college students, and young adults.
In addition, annual follow-up questionnaires are mailed to a sample of each graduating class for a number of years after their initial participation,” according to the Monitoring The Future website.
The survey asks students if they smoke marijuana every day or if they have used the drug for a minimum of 20 times in the last 30 days. Results show that almost 6 percent of full-time students used marijuana regularly, whereas only 5 percent identified themselves as heavy cigarette smokers.
Out of the students surveyed, 21 percent said they used marijuana at least once during the previous month and 34 percent said they had used it in the past year. But what do the study’s findings mean?
Results Show A Changing Trend
Researchers believe that teenagers and young adults have paid attention to public health warnings about cigarettes, but have regarded marijuana as a much safer alternative, according to lead investigator Lloyd Johnston.
This year’s results are important: this is the first time that more young adults have admitted to regularly using marijuana more than cigarettes. The number of daily and near-daily pot users from the 2014 survey was the highest ever recorded.
“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students,” Johnston said. “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”
The survey includes information about other substances as well. In terms of alcohol use, only 5 percent of students said they engaged in extreme binge drinking, which researchers defined as having 15 or more drinks in one sitting at least once in the last two weeks.
However, the amount of students using cocaine has increased from 2.7 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent in 2014. It’s too early to know if cocaine is making a comeback on college campuses, but Johnston said the increase was statistically significant.
As far as sober students go, half of survey respondents had not used any illicit drugs in the past year.
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