According to a report sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and given by the University of Michigan, cigarette use has dropped so dramatically among teen users that smoking/vaping cannabis is the more popular choice.
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The report states that nearly 23 percent of high school seniors said that they had used cannabis in the previous 30 days, while only 9.7 percent had smoked a cigarette. Teens usage of other drugs, like opioids, stimulants and alcohol have either dropped or stayed steady from last year’s data.
Cannabis, on the other hand, has remained at an even keel in recent years, at least among teens. Other studies have demonstrated an increase in adult usage.
Of the near 23 percent of high school students using cannabis, 16.6 percent were using vaping devices. Vaping devices heat the material inside to a temperature that vaporizes the oil or flower, thus avoiding the carcinogens that come with the combustive nature of smoking.
Because of the lack of carcinogens, vaping is thought to be a healthier alternative, even when used to replace cigarettes. However, there is concern that vaping has simply introduced a new form of ingesting nicotine, which is still harmful in and of itself. There is also the fear that vaping could lead to cigarette use, but there are no conclusive results.
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Allison Kilcoyne directs a high school health center in a Boston suburb and says she has seen first-hand that the results of the study are accurate. She says that it is difficult to convince teens of the potential harm cannabis could be causing.
Ms. Kilcoyne told The New York Times, “They perceive there are no negative effects. I talk about the impact on their developing brain and the risk of learning to smoke marijuana as a coping mechanism. We have other interventions, I say. But the problem is that for them, it works. They’re feeling immediate relief of whatever symptoms they have. They’re medicating themselves.”
The thing to remember is that while cannabis use has not declined among teens, it hasn’t increased either. The biggest takeaway here is that the long looming cigarette that has claimed so many lives is on its way out the door.