In this April 19, 2014 photo, partygoers dance and smoke pot during the annual marijuana festival in Denver. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Daily marijuana use among U.S. college students is rising, and, for the first time since data has been collected, their use of pot has surpassed cigarette smoking, according to a new national survey.

In 2014, 5.9 percent of of college students were smoking marijuana daily or near-daily. That compares with 3.5 percent in 2007.

Researchers conducting the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study theorized that much of the increase may be due to the fact that public perception of the dangers of marijuana use have shifted dramatically in recent years with its legalization in a growing number of jurisdictions.

"It's clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation's college students," Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study, said in a statement.

Students seem to have also absorbed the messages in public health campaigns in recent years about the dangers of cigarettes.


Only 5 percent said in 2014 that they were daily cigarette smokers as compared with 19 percent in 1999. There was an even sharper decline in those who had smoked just one or more cigarettes in the prior 30 days. In 2014, 13 percent said they were occasional smokers as compared with 31 percent in 1999.

"Unfortunately," the researchers wrote, "the appreciable declines in cigarette smoking have been accompanied by some increases in the use of other forms of tobacco or nicotine."

An FDA anti-smoking video released in February of last year:

The survey found that the number of students smoking tobacco with a hookah at least once in the prior 12 months rose from 26 percent in 2013 to 33 percent in 2014.

E-cigarette use remained relatively stable but high at 9.7 percent over the prior 30 days, flavored little cigars 9.8 percent, regular little cigars 8.6 percent and large cigars 8.4 percent.

The researchers said they would continue tracking how the popularity of alternate forms of tobacco is shifting among all age groups.

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