Marijuana smoking and nicotine vaping are the substances of choice for today’s adolescent users, with the rate of use for other substances continuing to decline, a new study says.
The study, published on Sept. 20 in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, tracked the habits of over 500,000 American youths in grades 8, 10 and 12 over the course of 28 years, from 1998 to 2019.
Alcohol and cigarettes are still the most used drugs, with 27% of respondents saying they had consumed alcohol in the last month, and 15% reporting smoking cigarettes in the last month.
Where those rates have gradually declined, marijuana and nicotine vaping have filled the gap, with rates of use for both substances rising from 2017 to 2019. 13% of study respondents reported cannabis use in the last month.
“Between 2017 and 2019, the percentage of U.S. teenagers who said they’d vaped nicotine in the past month rose from 7% to 17%, the investigators found. The relative increase in marijuana vaping was even greater, from just over 3% to almost 10%,” the study found, according to HealthDay.
Whereas alcohol and cigarettes have been subject to decades of public health campaigns and new regulations governing their sale and advertising, marijuana use is up as many states have legalized the drug.
“We’ve had some really impressive programs over the years targeting smoking and drinking specifically. I think less work has been done in this population for cannabis and vaping,” the study’s lead author Noah Kreski told USA Today.