More US college students are making a habit of using marijuana, which has supplanted cigarettes as the smoke-able substance of choice among undergraduates who light up regularly, a study has found. Just under 6% of the full-time students surveyed by University of Michigan researchers reported using pot either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days—the highest figure since 1980, reports Reuters. By contrast, 5% of respondents identified themselves as heavy cigarette smokers, a steep decline from the 19% who said they smoked daily in 1999. The findings suggest that teenagers and young adults have absorbed public health warnings about the dangers of cigarettes but increasingly regard marijuana as benign or carrying few risks, says a lead investigator.
The University of Michigan has surveyed a nationally representative sample of full-time college students about their drug and alcohol use every year since 1980. The percentage of daily and near-daily pot users from the 2014 survey was the highest ever recorded and marked the first time that regular weed consumption outpaced habitual cigarette use, the study states. Some 21% of students surveyed said they had used marijuana at least once in the previous month, and 34% said they had used it in the past year. The number of students reporting they had used cocaine in the previous year increased from 2.7% in 2013 to 4.4% in 2014. Half of respondents said they had not used any illicit drugs in the past year. Just 5% said they had engaged in extreme binge drinking—15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the previous two weeks. (Read more marijuana stories.)