The story that should have made headlines: Teenagers smoking less

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The results of a survey on substance use among U.S. teenagers were released yesterday. The survey, conducted by the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that smoking and alcohol consumption are historically low among this demographic but marijuana use is more common than it has been in three decades.

The national survey included 47,000 eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders and revealed that, while less than 12 percent of them reported smoking cigarettes within the past month, nearly 26 percent said they had smoked pot within the past year. Alcohol usage among high school seniors continued its decline, with 40 percent of 12th-graders reporting drinking in the past month compared with 54 percent two decades ago.

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross, however, observes that the big headlines focused on the marijuana and alcohol statistics, but managed to ignore the more important story: The low and continually declining rate of cigarette smoking among teenagers is the real success story, he says. While Dr. Ross does agree that a rise in teenage marijuana use is a serious concern, he believes that the emphasis in this story should be on the much more positive fact of the continued decline in smoking among young people.