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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 12/14/2011

Teen alcohol and cigarette use at record low

Cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking by U.S. teenagers has reached another historic low, according to a federally funded survey released Wednesday.

About 10 percent of 12th-graders and a little more than 2 percent of eighth-graders reported smoking daily in 2011, while nearly 64 percent of 12th-graders and 27 percent of eighth-graders reported having consumed alcohol in the past year, according to the Monitoring the Future annual survey by the University of Michigan, Anne Arbor.

Those represent big drops. In 1997, nearly 25 percent of 12th-graders smoked every day and in 1996 more than 10 percent of eighth-graders smoked daily, Similarly, in 1997 nearly 75 percent of 12th-graders had consumed alcohol, and in 1994 nearly 47 percent of eighth-graders said they had done so.

But that good news was tempered by continued high rates of marijuana and prescription drug abuse and use of other tobacco products, according to the survey. Among 12th-graders, more than 36 percent reported having smoked marijuana and more than 6 percent reported daily pot smoking, up from about 31 percent and 5 percent respectively five years ago. At the same time, fewer teens apparently think smoking marijuana is risky. Only about 23 percent of seniors saw great risk of smoking pot occasionally, compared to nearly 26 percent five years ago. Similarly, more than 43 percent of eighth-graders say great risk, compared with nearly 49 percent five years ago.

About 8 percent of 12th-graders reported abuse of the prescription painkiller Vicodin, which is similar to 2010 and down from nearly 10 percent in 2009. There was also a decline reported by 10th graders. But no such declines were seen for OxyContin.

In 2011, abuse of the ADHD drugs Adderall and Ritalin remained about the same as last year among 12th-graders, and a decline in abuse of over-the-counter cough medicine among eighth-graders.

In addition, more than 19 percent of 12th-graders reported smoking small cigars, a 16 percent decline from 2010. More than 18 percent reported smoking a hookah.

The survey questioned 46,773 students from 400 public and private schools.

To listen to an audiocast of a briefing on the findings, click here.

By  |  10:31 AM ET, 12/14/2011

 
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