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Teens are Smoking and Drinking Less, Study Says

Update Date: Dec 16, 2015 10:40 AM EST

Teenagers today do not smoke or drink as much anymore, a new study found.

According to the research team at the University of Michigan, their yearly survey, "Monitoring the Future," revealed that the percentages of teens who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol are at their lowest since 1975 when the survey first began. The survey reaches more than 40,000 teens who are in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades at around 400 public and private schools from 48 states.

The rate of teens from all three grades who smoked within the past 30 days fell by one percent to an all-time low of seven percent. The researchers noted that fewer teens are trying cigarettes today than they were before, which could be due to an increased awareness of the dangers of smoking.

For alcohol use, the rates were 40 percent for teens who drank within the past 12 months and 22 percent for teens who drank within the past 30 days prior to the survey.

Binge-drinking, which is defined as consuming at least five drinks in a row on one or more occasions over the past two weeks, fell to five percent in 8th-graders, 11 percent in 10th-graders and 17 percent in 12th-graders. Extreme binge drinking (having 10 to 15 or more drinks in a row on one or more occasions over a two week span) also fell.

"In recent years, there has been a fair decline in all three grades in the proportion saying that alcohol is easy for them to get, with the steepest decline among the youngest teens," Professor Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator, said in a statement reported by CBS Detroit. "This suggests that state, community and parental efforts have been successful in reducing underage access to alcohol."

The team noted that although peer disapproval of drinking has been increasing, it did not increase for 2015.

The researchers also found that fewer teens were using illicit drugs, such as ecstasy and heroin. The only drug that teens continued to use consistently was marijuana.

"So, among secondary school students, at least, it appears that the use of heroin and of other narcotics both have been declining in parallel for the past five or six years, with no evidence of any overall displacement from use of one to use of the other," Johnston said. "That is not to say that individual users do not show displacement, as has been widely reported in the media."

For more information on the survey, click here.

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