NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Smoking, Drinking And Drug Use Among Youths Declining

December 17, 2002

Smoking, drinking and the use of illegal drugs among 8th, 10th and 12th graders fell simultaneously this year for the first time, according to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The survey was sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • One of the biggest declines occurred in smoking, with the proportion of teenagers who said that they had ever smoked cigarettes falling by four or five percentage points compared with 2001 -- a finding that held true at all three grade levels.
  • The proportion of 8th graders who said they had consumed alcohol in the past year declined 3.2 percent, and 3.5 percent among 10th graders.
  • Use of any drug other than marijuana in the past year dropped 2 percentage points among 8th graders, 2.1 percentage points among 10th graders and 0.7 percentage point among 12th graders.
  • Annual use of drugs other than marijuana among 8th graders is now one-third lower than it was in the recent peak year of 1996, and down about 15 percent among 10th graders since its 1996 peak.

Some analysts attribute the declines to the sobering impact of the events of September 11. Others say the opposite case could also be made: that September 11 made people more anxious and inclined to substance abuse.

Source: Fox Butterfield, "Teenage Drug Use Is Dropping, a Study Finds," New York Times, December 17, 2002.


Browse more articles on Government Issues