Pot vs. Tobacco: What study says about college drug use

On Sept. 1, The New York Times posted an article, “Study: Pot More a Habit for College Students Than Cigarettes,” relaying that smoking pot has officially exceeded cigarette smoking amongst college students.
The University of Michigan study “Monitoring the Future” reported just under 6 percent of students claimed to smoke weed habitually (every day for about 20 out of the last 30 days), while just 5 percent of students consider themselves heavy cigarette smokers in the same fashion.
How does this relate to Pacific’s campus and even more widely to our generation?
Well, this could be considered great news — It asserts that younger generations have absorbed the media touting the negative effects of cigarette smoking, especially considering that 5 percent is a dramatic decline from 19 percent of college cigarette smokers in 1999.
Does Pacific fall into the same statistics? We may be smoker-friendly, but how often do you see students walking around smoking cigarettes?
As it turns out, the answer is not nearly as often as you would have seen them in the late ‘90s to early 2000s. Even walking around locations off campus like Miracle Mile, San Francisco, etc., you don’t inhale nearly as much secondhand smoke as you would have in previous years.
We can thank MTV for promoting the “truth” ads every commercial break to veer our generation away from smoking cigarettes. The anti-tobacco campaign is still running and reports only 8 percent of teens smoke cigarettes today.
This statistic coincides with the low numbers of the “Monitoring the Future” study, showing that the teens who are refraining from cigarette use are still resisting in college.
Now the next step is to eliminate tobacco use all together, which is potentially viable with marijuana smoking on the rise. We can only speculate if joints will trump cigarettes in the future. The “truth” campaign may need to change gears within the next few years.
The one thing these studies do not show is when the marijuana smoking begins. Nevertheless, whether it begins in high school or college, our generation has put down the toxic chemicals in tobacco for a more natural inhalant.
The study also reported that 21 percent of students used marijuana once in the past month and 34 percent used the drug at some point in the past year. The article discusses the amount of binge drinking (5 percent) and cocaine use (4.4 percent in 2014 from 2.7 percent in 2013 — a dangerous increase).
Are students more likely to use substances at Pacific? Take into consideration that we are a wet, smoker-friendly campus. Does this increase the chances of binge drinking and habitual tobacco use?
A student can only purchase two drinks at The Lair, so there is no room for binge drinking there. However, we cannot forget about the dorms or student housing, where any student could keep the drinks pouring.
Of course, we should also consider the amount of students abstaining from smoking weed or cigarettes, drinking alcohol or doing cocaine. That number comprises most of the population, which is the better percentage to hold onto: Although it might not seem like it, the majority of college students do not smoke, drink or use drugs.

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Cecilia Tribuzio

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