Survey of Cincy-area students, including some in Kenton County, finds pot and vaping more popular than cigs; drug use down

Students in Greater Cincinnati, including Northern Kentucky, are more likely to use marijuana and electronic vapor products than cigarettes, according to a drug-use survey of students in the region.

Graph from PreventionFirst report

The survey found that students in the area were most likely to use alcohol (16.3 percent) within the past 30 days, followed by marijuana (11.7 percent), electronic vapor products (13.4 percent), tobacco (8.2 percent) and non-prescribed prescription drugs (4.6 percent).

This was the first year a question was included about electronic vapor products in the biennial surveys by PreventionFirst (formerly the Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati), a comprehensive effort to reduce adolescent alcohol and drug use.

The good news is that most students are not using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs, says the report.

The study surveyed nearly 40,000 students in grades seven through 12 from 88 public and private schools in several counties in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky’s Kenton County. They were asked whether they’d used any of 21 drugs.

The survey found that use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana have declined significantly since 2000: alcohol down 46 percent, tobacco down 61 percent and marijuana declining 22 percent. Since 2012, non-prescribed prescription drug use has declined 29 percent.

It found that students’ perception of the harm that alcohol can do has increased, while they were less concerned about marijuana.

With marijuana, as students get older “their perception of harm decreases, and use increases,” said PreventionFirst CEO Mary Haag told Terry DeMio  of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“Marijuana has become very prevalent and it’s becoming more so,” Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis Deters, who chairs the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, told DeMio. “It’s dangerous to our children and it enhances their risk when they become adults for serious addiction.”

The report calls age 13 a “pivotal age” because this is when first drug use often occurs in students.

The report also finds that peer and parental disapproval rates are at an all-time high.

“We know how important friends and parents are in a young person’s life,” Haag said in the news release. “Students whose peers and family express disapproval are more likely to make the healthy choice to not use drugs and alcohol.”

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