December 14, 2009 / 6:48 PM / 9 years ago

Teen survey shows drops in meth use, smoking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Methamphetamine use and smoking among U.S. teens has dropped significantly in recent years, but declines in marijuana use have stalled, according to an annual government survey released on Monday.

Women smoke in central Sydney May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Only 1.2 percent of high school seniors say they used meth, as it is commonly called, in the past year, the survey found — the lowest level since 1999 when use of the street drug was reported at 4.7 percent.

The proportion of 10th graders reporting meth was easy to obtain dropped to 14 percent, down from 19.5 percent five years ago, according to the survey of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The research was conducted under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Cigarette smoking among teens also dropped to the lowest level since the survey began in 1975.

Only 2.7 percent of eighth graders smoke daily — down from a peak rate of 10.4 percent in 1996 — while 11.2 percent of high school seniors say they smoke daily, less than half of the 24.6 percent rate reported in 1997, the survey said.

It indicated marijuana use among teens has been on a downward trend since the mid-1990s, but the decline has stalled with use rates at the same levels as five years ago. schools in the eighth, 10th, and 12th grades were surveyed.

White House drug policy director Gil Kerlikowske said the survey is a warning sign for parents and policymakers.

“Considering the troublesome data from other national and local surveys, these latest data confirm that we must redouble our efforts to implement a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to preventing and treating drug use,” Kerlikowske said in a statement.

The survey of 46,097 students across the United States also showed a continuing high rate of non-medical use of prescription drugs and cough syrup among teens.

Editing by Paul Simao

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