Aug 14, 2018 | Updated: 01:42 PM EDT

Pot Smoking More Spread Than Cigarettes On US College Campuses -- Study

Sep 03, 2015 07:21 PM EDT

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According to a new study, college students in the U.S. are smoking more pot than cigarettes. The findings of the study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan suggest that around 6 percent of the American full-time students surveyed reported smoking pot either every day or at least 20 times in the previous month.

For the same survey, only with 5 percent of students reported they smoked cigarettes. According to researchers, this is a steep decline from the year 1999, when around 19 percent of students reported they are regular cigarette smokers.

The new findings show the highest percentage of daily and near-daily pot use ever recorded in the annual survey. This marks the first time when habitual cigarette use was outpaced by regular marijuana use, according to researchers. The number of US college students smoking marijuana every day or nearly every day has become now greater than it has been in 35 years. Smoking pot less often was also on the rise, but not as sharply.

The good news from these findings is that it seems young people are responding to public health warnings about the dangers of cigarettes by reducing their consumption. However, the negative side of the story is that they regard marijuana increasingly as carrying few risks, said lead investigator Lloyd Johnston for the university's Institute for Social Research.

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

Student use of non-traditional alternatives to cigarettes such as e-cigarettes is relatively new and has yet to be fully tracked. For now, the Michigan study suggests that, as the use of traditional tobacco products decline, the popularity of e-cigarettes is surging.

The study concluded that drug use on U.S. college campuses is on the rise, but the most of this increase is driven by the marijuana use, according to researchers.

The report also found that drinking and binge drinking among college students is on the decline. According to researchers, binge drinking is defined as having at least five drinks in a row. The study found that, at some point within two weeks of the survey, around 5 percent of students have engaged in extreme binge drinking of 15 or more drinks in a row.

According to Johnston, the findings of their research suggest a clear increase in marijuana use among nation's college students for the past seven or eight years. This change in habits parallels closely an increase that has been seen among high school seniors.

A possible explanation is related to more relaxed marijuana policies in states across the country. Teens and young adults probably perceive the drug increasingly as harmless, according to the study. Recently, the attitudes about marijuana have notably changed nationwide. States such as Washington and Colorado have voted to legalize recreational use in 2012, and Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia followed.

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