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SCIENCE REPORT – February 27, 2002: Drug Use Report - 2002-02-26

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

A new study examines drug use by young people in the United States.

The study found that cigarette smoking among American teenagers dropped during the past year. The drop continues a general decrease in teenage smoking rates that started in Nineteen-Ninety-Six.

American health officials praised the decrease as good news in the nation’s battle against smoking. They note that smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease. Smoking rates among American teenagers increased in the first half of the Nineteen-Nineties. However, teenage smoking rates have been decreasing in recent years.

The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research supervised the latest study. The Department of Health and Human Services reported the findings.

The study involved more than forty-four-thousand students in more than four-hundred schools across the United States. They were asked about past and daily use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs.

The youngest students questioned were thirteen years old. The study also involved fifteen-year-old students and seventeen-year-olds.

The most notable change in the study was a continuation of the decrease in cigarette use among thirteen and fifteen-year-olds.

For example, about twelve percent of thirteen-year-old students questioned reported smoking at least one cigarette during the past month. Six years ago, the rate was twenty-one percent. Among fifteen-year-olds, the rate dropped from thirty percent in Nineteen-Ninety-Six to twenty-one percent last year.

Tommy Thompson is the secretary of Health and Human Services. He praised the findings. He said more teenagers are making correct choices that will help them avoid health problems caused by tobacco.

The study found that use of alcoholic drinks and illegal drugs among American teenagers remained the same or dropped during the past year. However, the use of one illegal drug known as Ecstasy continued to increase. Yet the rate of increase was not as great as in recent years.

American health officials said they will continue to give teenagers scientific information about the serious health risks of Ecstasy and other illegal drugs. The goal is to further reduce the use of these drugs.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.