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As Youth Alcohol “Epidemic” Fades, Vaping New Cause for Concern; Binge Drinking At Record Lows

Teen drinking rates continued to drop in 2018, according to just-released Monitoring the Future survey.  Indeed, despite decades of declines, so-called “binge drinking” (5+ drinks at least once in 2 wks prior to survey) again “significantly declined in 2018 among 12th graders.”  So, binge-drinking rate among high school seniors fell to 14% this yr, down from a peak of 31.3% in 1997. Times have changed. Because of this and similar trends among younger teens, alarm bells about “epidemic” of teen drinking faded in recent years.  That’s been replaced by concerns about “dramatic increases” in adolescents using vaping devices, highlighted by both Univ of Michigan (where survey originates) and fed agency Natl Inst on Drug Abuse announcements yesterday. Percentage of 12th graders who vaped nicotine in prior mo almost doubled in one year, from 11% to 21%.  Thus, “we need new policies and strategies, such as FDA’s actions announced last month to curb the sales of JUUL-branded vaping devices,” said study’s lead author. Govt officials fear young vapers will take up regular cigarettes, so “we must continue aggressive educational efforts on all products containing nicotine,” said NIDA’s director.  Meanwhile, use of other drugs steady to down. Despite spread of legalized recreational marijuana, monthly use of cannabis among 8th-12th graders actually dipped 2013 to 2018, from 15.6% to 14.6%. More MTF details in Dec issue of Alcohol Issues INSIGHTS.

NY Takes Step Closer, NJ A Step Back from Legalizing Recreational Cannabis  Meanwhile, NY Gov Cuomo included legalization of recreational cannabis on his agenda for first 100 days of his third term.  A long-time skeptic of legalization, along with NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, Cuomo evolved from considering cannabis a “gateway drug” and opposing even medical marijuana to emphasizing criminal justice issues.  Yesterday, he criticized a system that “for too long targeted the African-American and minority communities. Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all.” And then there’s the $$.  A state Health Dept report found “legalization could bring in between $248 million and $677 million in new tax revenue in the first year,” reports NY Times. Across the river, NJ put legalization on hold for time being, as Gov Murphy, a strong supporter, and NJ legislators could not agree on final bill for consideration before end of 2018.  Appropriate taxation is apparently the sticking point. Legalization will be taken up again in 2019, per press reports.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2018
  • Volume: 20
  • Issue #: 240
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