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article imageCDC: U.S. high school students smoke more pot than cigarettes

By Yukio Strachan     Jun 9, 2012 in Health
The good news: there has been no increase in teen smoking. The bad news: that's because they're choosing pot instead, a new report finds.
Conducted every two years since 1991, the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is an anonymous questionnaire that's given to more than 15,000 high school students throughout the United States in public and private schools in grades 9 through 12, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
"The 2011 YRBS results show that our high school students still engage in risk behaviors that are harmful to their health and increase their risk for disease and injury," said Dr. Howell Wechsler, the director of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health in a Thursday conference call.
One risky behavior that increased among U.S. high school students was smoking pot, the YRBS report said. From 2009 to 2011, there's been no significant progress in reducing cigarette use, while marijuana use among high school students is on the rise.
"In fact, for the first time since CDC began collecting YRBS data in 1991, current marijuana use among U.S. high school students was more common than current cigarette use," Wechsler said.
For decades, according to The Associated Press, the number of teens who smoke cigarettes has been on the decline. Marijuana use has fluctuated, and recently rose. At times, pot and cigarette smoking were about the same level, but last year marked the first time marijuana overtook cigarette use.
The survey said that 23 percent of high school students said they recently smoked marijuana, while 18 percent said they had puffed cigarettes.
While the survey keeps track of what kids do, the YRBS does not explain why kids do it.
Texas Tech's Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery Associate Director George Comiskey told that he had an idea.
"We've increased the price of cigs so much that it's easier for people to get a hold of marijuana than it is cigarettes."
"But how well we address these behaviors now will greatly impact the overall picture of health for our nation's youth in the future," Wechsler explained. "Families, schools, communities and young people themselves must work together to help solve these problems, and interventions must be based on the best research available."
Findings from a survey from the University of Michigan seems to hint that education may be a part of the solution. A Michigan expert said teens today apparently see marijuana as less dangerous than cigarettes, the AP said.
"A lot of my friends are smoking marijuana," writes. "I'm all for the safe use of it."
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