Teen Drinking, Smoking on the Decline, U.S. Study Finds

But, research also notes more teens are trying marijuana

WEDNESDAY, July 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Although more American teens are using marijuana, their use of alcohol and cigarettes has decreased, a new study finds.

Penn State researchers reviewed information from nearly 600,000 high school seniors surveyed about their substance use between 1976 and 2013.

The results showed an increase in marijuana use, particularly among black teens. The study also found a significant decline in cigarette use, particularly among white teens.

In 1993, black teens were equally likely to use marijuana or cigarettes. Their use of marijuana has risen since then, the study revealed. White teens were more likely to smoke cigarettes than use marijuana until 2011. At that time, their use of marijuana became slightly higher than their use of cigarettes, the study showed.

In 2013, about 10 percent of black teens smoked cigarettes, but nearly 25 percent used marijuana. Nearly 19 percent of white teens smoked cigarettes, while nearly 22 percent used marijuana.

Teens were more likely to use marijuana if they smoked cigarettes and if they drank excessively. The reverse was also true.

Teens' use of alcohol has fallen since the mid-1970s. However, white teens are still more likely to use alcohol than any other substance. And, white teens' alcohol use remained higher than black teens' throughout the study period, the study found.

Findings were published July 20 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

"Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working -- fewer teens are smoking cigarettes," Stephanie Lanza, a professor of biobehavioral health, and scientific director of The Methodology Center at Penn State, said in a university news release.

"However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes," she added.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about marijuana.

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