Smarter teens are twice as likely to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol than their classmates, new research out of Britain shows, but they're far less likely to smoke cigarettes than their lower-scoring peers, the Telegraph reports. London researchers who tracked pot, booze, and tobacco use among 6,000 young Britons from ages 11 to 20 reported differences in age groups. During their early years, clever kids were less likely to smoke cigarettes but more inclined to drink. Pot use at this age was not statistically significant, Time reports. But by their late teens, the smart set was 50% more likely to sample pot or use it regularly. Ditto for drinking alcohol. Writing in BMJ Open, the researchers concede that while the "role of academic ability in determining patterns of substance use is not clear," they speculate that brainy kids may be more curious about new experiences and winning acceptance from adults.
High-scoring kids are more likely to come from more affluent families with access to alcohol and parental warnings against tobacco use, per the Telegraph. But the continued use of alcohol and marijuana into early adulthood appears to rule out the theory that teens are merely experimenting. The findings are "broadly consistent with the evidence base" among adults, the authors say. There has been a downward trend in pot and alcohol use among teens, researcher Dr. James Williams tells the Telegraph. He says that understanding substance use patterns "can inform public health policymaking and help target interventions for those in high-risk groups." (Teen pot use dipped in this state after legalization.)