Press Release -- CDC Survey: As Many Teens Smoke Marijuana as Cigarettes, Cigarette Use Dropping Faster

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JUNE 4, 2008

CDC Survey: As Many Teens Smoke Marijuana as Cigarettes, Cigarette Use Dropping Faster
Crackdown on Tobacco Sales to Kids Continues to Reduce Teen Access to Cigarettes

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-668-6403 or 202-215-4205

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two just-released federal reports indicate that regulation of tobacco continues to produce a steady drop in teen cigarette use and teen access to tobacco, with current cigarette use by high school students dropping markedly faster than use of marijuana.

The just-released 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports rates of current cigarette use and current marijuana use among teens in grades nine through 12 in a statistical tie at 20 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively. The cigarette use figure represents a sharp drop from the 2005 survey, when it was 23 percent. Marijuana use, at 20.2 percent in 2005, showed a much smaller decline.

Another report released this week, the Fiscal Year 2007 Annual Synar Report on tobacco sales to youth, showed the 10th straight annual decline in the rate of illegal tobacco sales to minors. In 1997, 40.1 percent of retailers violated laws against tobacco sales to minors. In 2007 the rate had dropped to just 10.5 percent, the lowest ever.

"Efforts to curb cigarette sales to teens have been wildly successful, and it's past time we applied those lessons to marijuana," said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Tobacco retailers can be fined or put out of business if they sell to kids, but prohibition guarantees that we have zero control over marijuana dealers. Foolish policies have guaranteed that the marijuana industry is completely unregulated.

"This isn't about whether you think marijuana is good or bad, it's about common sense," Houston, a father of three children, continued. "If you think marijuana is bad, why would you want it controlled by unregulated criminals, which guarantees that kids have greater access to it?"

The full CDC report is available online at The 2007 Annual Synar report is at

With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit

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