Smoking pot more of habit than cigarettes among college students

AP file photo

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (KRON) — College students in the U.S. are making pot smoking more of a habit over cigarette use, according to a new study released Tuesday.

University of Michigan researchers say 6 percent of the full-time students surveyed reported using pot either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days.

That’s compared with 5 percent of students saying they smoked cigarettes. Researchers say that’s a steep decline from the 19 percent of regular cigarette smokers in 1999.

The new figures showed the percentage of daily and near-daily pot use was the highest ever recorded in the annual survey, and it marked the first time that regular marijuana use outpaced habitual cigarette use, according to researchers.

The findings suggest that young people are responding to public health warnings about the dangers of cigarettes, but they increasingly regard marijuana as carrying few risks, according to lead investigator Lloyd Johnston for the university’s Institute for Social Research.

21 percent of the college students surveyed said they had used marijuana at least once during the previous month, and 34 percent said they had used it in the past year.

Student use of e-cigarettes and other non-traditional alternatives to cigarettes are relatively new and have yet to be fully tracked. But the Michigan study suggests the popularity of e-cigarettes is surging, as the use of traditional tobacco products decline.

The study also found that drug use on college campuses is on the rise, but the increase is driven mostly by the uptick in marijuana use, researchers said.

The report says drinking and binge drinking among college students is on the decline. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in a row. The study found about 5 percent of students report engaging in extreme binge drinking—15 or more drinks in a row—at some point within two weeks of the survey.

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