Cigarettes out, marijuana in according to Nevada teen survey

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Fewer Nevada teens are smoking cigarettes, but more are smoking marijuana since 1993, according to a study released by the state Department of Education.

It's a trend that did not surprise Carson High School senior Ash Dauenhauer.

"Smoking (cigarettes) is a lot worse because pot's not addictive," he said. "People who smoke seem to kill their bodies a lot faster, but I'm no doctor."

A tennis player and member of student council, Ash said he would be more likely to associate with other teens who used marijuana than those who smoked because marijuana does not have the same stigma.

"It's semi-common," he explained. "It's not something that everybody does, but a lot of kids have at least tried it."

Sex among high school students has also declined, according to the "Nevada Youth Risk Behavior Survey," based on responses from thousands of high school and middle school students in 2001.

"I'm glad it's dropped," said Carson High School's student body president Megan Petterson. "I think everyone is just more aware -- AIDS is a reality."

However, she said the number may still be too high.

"I know a lot of kids are sexually active," she said. "Sometimes they just use it as an excuse as something to do."

Jack McLaughlin, state superintendent of public instruction for the past year, said the survey shows risk-taking among Nevada youth "at unacceptably high levels."

For instance, cocaine use has also risen since 1993, inching up to 6 percent from 4 percent. But violence on school campuses has declined.

Drug sales on school campuses apparently rose. The report said 35.7 percent of the high school students said somebody had offered, sold or given them an illegal drug on campus. That's up from 31 percent in 1999 and 30 percent in 1993.

In the 1993 survey 58 percent of the students said they had sexual intercourse. That fell to 49 percent last year. And the use of condoms has risen from 53 percent to 62 percent during the eight-year period.

The report in 1993 found 10 percent of the students had been pregnant or had gotten someone pregnant. That's down to 6 percent in 2001.

The survey also found 9.2 percent of the high school students said they have been forced to have sexual intercourse; and 19.6 percent of high school students said they seriously have considered suicide.

The 1993 survey found 27 percent of Nevada students considered suicide, and 6.5 percent tried to kill themselves. Nationally, 33 percent of high school students said they considered suicide in 1993.

The question about whether students had been forced into sex has been asked since 1999. That year, 10 percent of the students said they had been forced into sex.


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