Study: More Teens Smoking Pot Than Cigarettes

Thanks in part to a concerted campaign to alert teens to the dangers of smoking, cigarette use is down in the U.S. Marijuana use? Not so much.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Doug Menuez/Getty

Seems like teens have gotten the memo that cigarettes are bad for you; however, the same isn’t true for marijuana, according to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.Released late last week, the government study revealed that in a nationwide study of 15,000 high school students, pot is now more popular among teens than cigarettes, CBS reports. Eighteen percent of surveyed students in 2011 reported smoking a cigarette in the past month, while 23% reported smoking marijuana in the last 30 days.

Perhaps thanks to the anti-smoking campaigns in ads and in schools, or to the personal experiences teens may have with family members or relatives with lung cancer, cigarette use has been on the decline over the past few years.

But apparently, the association of marijuana with cancer and other health risks is not as prevalent among teens. “I just hear a lot of dangers of cancer and cigarettes and I think that’s why a lot of teens look to marijuana,” Tianda, a Philadelphia high school junior who wasn’t identified by her full name, told CBS Philly.

(READ: Beyond Pot Brownies: The New Cannabis Cuisine)

While plenty of research has been done on the health effects of the marijuana use, results are mixed. A study published in the journal Addiction last year found that marijuana had little long-term effect on learning and memory, and that any cognitive damage was reversible.

However, while there may not be lasting cognitive effects, there could be other health effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana smoke contains 50-70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, and that pot smokers usually inhale more deeply and hold their breath, which can lead to an even larger increase in exposure to the smoke.

But then, the NIDA goes on to report:

Marijuana smokers show dysregulated growth of epithelial cells in their lung tissue, which could lead to cancer; however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time.

Teens are going to need some hard and fast facts — and plenty more education — before they believe that pot smoking is as detrimental as cigarettes.

MORE: Touré: Marijuana Should Be Decriminalized

32 comments
ziharrah
ziharrah

Why would anyone smoke cigarettes? They're bad for you and they don't even get you high. 

JoeThomas
JoeThomas like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Seems like teens have gotten the memo that cigarettes are bad for you; however, the same isn’t true for marijuana"

The memo that marijuana is bad for you? I think the scientific community never published that one...

KillerOrange
KillerOrange

If you want a real laugh, click on that link to his 'source', the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

This is not journalism. You should be fired.

jbjeffri
jbjeffri

I normally enjoy reading Time, but this is irresponsible.  The author seems quite concerned with kids knowing using Marijuana is as bad as smoking cigarettes, but it's not.  This reminds me of young people being told using protection won't help to prevent std's or pregnancy.  The media should take the responsibilities they have more seriously and not help push an agenda based in lies and fear tactics straight out of the 1930's.  I'll probably continue to read Time, but it's a bummer to see this from an organization I once had a greater respect for.

PaulSaguto
PaulSaguto

OR kids are smoking  weed because it is also a LOT more fun to smoke than cigarettes and therefore makes more sense considering that pattern of logic...

JamesGreen
JamesGreen like.author.displayName 1 Like

So basically what I gathered from this article.. is that they have to stop kids from smoking marijuana? Even if it's not bad for them? Is that fun they're having over there? Stop that!! You can't have any fun around here!! Stupid kids...

BenjaminJamesPlato
BenjaminJamesPlato

the link to the CDC study just opens to their youth data sight, not straight to the study. Has anyone found the actual study on that site and can you give me the link?

mtzjordanb
mtzjordanb

How much did they pay you to publish this article?

MattsonZoidbergGriffiths
MattsonZoidbergGriffiths

cannabis smoke contains carcinogens, yes. However, the smoke is not carcinogenic due to many of the natural compounds in cannabis (ie: THC, CBD1, CBD2) having numerous potential health benefits that offset the risk of cancer. Lets also not ignore that there has never been any documented case of a cannabis-only smoker ending up with cancer as a result of their cannabis use.

I still believe the research showing that teen use can have detrimental effects on socio-cognitive development. Solution? Regulate it for adults  at least 18 years of age and take away a great deal of unregulated control from dealers

wxman
wxman

I think it's because it is probably just as easy if not easier for underage kids to obtain marijuana. Oh , and not to bring down the article too much but uh, "Eighteen percent of surveyed students in 2011 reported smoking a cigarette in the past month, while 23% reported smoking marijuana in the last 30 days." What is the difference between 30 days and a month?

JoeThePro94
JoeThePro94

Tabaco smoke and cigarette smoke are not the same thing, cigarettes contain much more than just tobaco, like tar and even cyanide. 

SteveBoyer
SteveBoyer like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

It's not because of the health affects; I doubt most teens care about that. It's because marijuana is easier for teens to get. Drug dealers don't ask for IDs...

JoeThePro94
JoeThePro94

@SteveBoyer Very true, also the effects are much more desirable to them than a simple cigarette 

applefinds
applefinds

the study was for young adults, there does seem to be a correlation between impairment and cannabis use, which also looks to be irreversible (google for sources).

Donotbelievethehype25
Donotbelievethehype25 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have been smoking marijuana almost everyday for ten years and I can still run 2 miles a day. My lungs have been tested and they are perfectly  healthy. Obviously this study that says marijuana is more carcinogenic than tobacco is false.

JohnRomano
JohnRomano

There is a dude that clearly knows whats going on!

www.ur-anon.tk

thesongwriter
thesongwriter

The government has known for decades that THC kills cancer.  That's why, despite the amount of carcinogens present in cannabis smoke, those who smoke it do not develop lung or mouth cancer.

SethAndrews
SethAndrews

"[...] however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time."

ryanpatrickohara
ryanpatrickohara

What kind of a sample is 15,000 students?! I really feel like that is not a big enough sampling for any kind of study on national usage of anything. 15,000? There are more teenagers in most area codes.

SteveBoyer
SteveBoyer

@ryanpatrickohara You obviously have no idea how polling works. Polls are usually pretty small, just like this one. There are formulas for calculating the potential error in the polls and larger polls are more accurate. This is why polls like those done in presidential elections also have a margin of error. The important thing is that the poll is nationwide.

ryanpatrickohara
ryanpatrickohara

@SteveBoyer @ryanpatrickohara  

Steve, I do know how polls work. It's pretty obvious how it works, however the data and amount of it has a great deal of importance on the outcome. My point was that this poll not only seems very small considering the size of the demographic it is trying to portray with the results but (unlike other things, like politics, which are more universal and simple enough), something that is illegal and has such a stigma is often a hard subject to poll. Like the subject of sex, drugs can be a topic where people tend to either be conservative or exaggerate. Regarding drugs, young people may not tell the truth to avoid potential trouble, or exaggerate to be something or portray something they are not, and etc. Asking people about drugs is much different than who you're going to vote for, or if you watch American Idol. I think the subject of this nature requires a bigger sampling, considering there are likely close to 40m teens in the USA and the nature of the topic. Just my opinion.

demo
demo

16000 randomly sampled teenagers is enough data to speak about 40 million of them at around a confidence level of 99% with an error of +/- 1%

AshleyCarey
AshleyCarey like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The unsubstantiated link between marijuana use and any type of cancer is a loaded gun. Over the next few years, I expect we'll see some connection between THC and tumor shrinkage, something which has already been linked in several existing studies. I think public opinion on cannabis won't be going the way of the cigarette anytime soon.

WAREH0USE
WAREH0USE like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 5 Like

The risks of marijuana smoke can be easily neutralized by vaporizers and edibles, as well. It's a blatantly more healthy choice and teens know that.

chictyler
chictyler like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Teens are going to need some hard and fast facts — and plenty more education — before they believe that pot smoking is as detrimental as cigarettes." fact is no one smokes 3 packs worth of joints a day, people do with cigarettes. No one. Most teens might take 6 or so hits (puffs) with friends on a weekend night. That over time has no affect on you. Tobacco is also way more addictive. Use a vaporizer or edibles, and there are literally no health risks. Using a water pipe/bong filters out the tar. 

SethAndrews
SethAndrews

@chictyler"[...] however, a recent case-controlled study found no positive associations between marijuana use and lung, upper respiratory, or upper digestive tract cancers. Thus, the link between marijuana smoking and these cancers remains unsubstantiated at this time."right?