College students in the United States are showing a lesser preference for tobacco while opting for marijuana instead, according to a new study.
The use of marijuana has been gaining grounds in recent years, driven by medical benefits that are increasingly being attributed to it. However, in spite of its therapeutic effects, the drug still constitutes a threat when people smoke it.
Most of the states in the U.S. now allow legal use of the drug on medical grounds. Recreational use is even permitted in some of these states. It now appears this is starting to have an unwanted effect on use by younger people.
In the new study that appeared in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found that marijuana use is rising at a worrying rate among college students. More of these young people are abandoning tobacco in favor of joints.
Perhaps, the more troubling aspect is that most of these young people do not believe that regular weed smoking can harm their health.
Marijuana becoming more popular
Researchers made use of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health covering the period from 2002 to 2016. The survey assessed how Americans aged between 18 and 22 used tobacco and marijuana in the past month and year.
It was found that the number of college students using marijuana is rising at a more rapid rate, compared to the rate among young people in general. More young individuals in college engaged in exclusive marijuana use within both the past 30 days and the past 12 months.
The number of college students who said they exclusively smoked weed in the past 30 days was 8 percent higher in 2016, compared to 2002. By contrast, the increase seen among young people who were not in college was 4 percent.
Almost 2 in every 5 young people surveyed reported smoking weed in the past 12 months.
Yet, probably because of therapeutic benefits that are increasingly being associated with marijuana, many young people are losing sight of the inherent dangers of smoking it.
Researchers reported in the new study that just about 30 percent of those surveyed thought regular marijuana use was harmful. That was the lowest rate since 1980.
Falling preference for tobacco
While marijuana use is increasing, on one hand, tobacco is becoming less popular on the other. Exclusive tobacco use is on the downward slide among young adults, including college students.
Many people are aware of the untoward effects of smoking tobacco. Its harmful effects include the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cardiovascular disease.
Exclusive tobacco use is reducing little by little among young people in general, according to the study. However, the decrease in the number of college students who smoked tobacco was greater than that of those persons not in college.
While more non-college individuals used tobacco, there was still a drop in use within the past 30 days. The rate of use was 16 percent lower in 2016, compared to 2002.
The survey did not assess the use of e-cigarettes, which evidence suggests is becoming increasingly popular among young people.
A report released by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan in 2018 revealed vaping as the second-most common mode of substance abuse.
College students favor marijuana use over tobacco, study shows | WQAD.com (https://wqad.com/2019/11/11/marijuana-use-is-rising-among-young-adults-especially-college-students-study-shows/)