Do Teens Really Prefer Marijuana To Tobacco?

Good news guys! Teen cigarette smoking is on the decline! but unfortunately they may just be replacing cigarettes with something else: Hi Everyone, Crystal here for DNews answering your questions about adolescent adventures in “recreational neuropharmacology” We’ve covered both tobacco and marijuana frequently on DNews, but now a new study implies that teenagers may be choosing one over the other

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently published the results of a thirty six year long survey of “Trends Among US High School Seniors in Recent Marijuana Use and Associations With Other Substances” The study focused on the use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes by almost 600,000 high school seniors between 1976 and 2013 Good news from the study are reports that teen cigarette use is finally on the decline

Study author Stephanie Lanza says “Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working—fewer teens are smoking cigarettes,” but she followed up by saying “we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes” A bold statement that is relatively devoid of nuance It is true the study shows that since the 90’s, marijuana use amongst teens has been on the rise with 22% of the high school seniors polled in 2013 reporting marijuana use in the last 30 days But it is also important to note that 22% is less than the 30% of teens who reported marijuana use when the study began in 1976 and that was before it became legalized in several states

Additionally in some reports, the incidence of marijuana use among high school seniors found in this study is being compared to the approximately 19% that report use of conventional tobacco cigarettes and it is easy to misinterpret this comparison as “teens are choosing THC over nicotine” but that is not a conclusion that can be drawn here In fact, we know that today’s teens prefer their nicotine from other sources Studies by the FDA and CDC indicate that Hookah and electronic cigarettes are now the preferred method of nicotine exposure and adolescent use of both doubled between 2011 and 2014 This is a case of technology advancing beyond the design of a scientific study and it is this type of evolution that make data from long term health studies like the Penn state study so difficult to interpret Data are just data, and it is important that scientists and the media understand the limitations and in some cases social context in which that information exists

So are teens choosing the less addictive psychoactive compound THC over nicotine? Probably not, but I think we can all agree that reduction in conventional cigarette use is a universal good thing So which is better for you? vaping or smoking pot? Tara answer that exact question in this video

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