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New report shows rise in high school e-cigarette use, fall in abuse of other substances

Flickr User Eddie Crow

A new report on substance abuse in Kalamazoo County has mixed news. It says that fewer teens are using alcohol, marijuana, and regular tobacco products. But there’s been a surge in the number of high school students using e-cigarettes.

Ashley Bergeon at Prevention Works is the coordinator of the Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force.

"This past year, we found that e-cigarettes are actually higher than any other substance use, and that while those other substances are declining, e-cigarette use has increased, most markedly at our 11th grade level. It increased ten percent in just two years."

Bergeon says it’s found that many teens have a false idea about how many of their peers use drugs.


"When a teen thinks that everybody, or most people, are doing it, it sort of creates this air of, 'It's normal and maybe I should do it as well.'"

Bergeon also says both teens and their parents need more and better information about the health effects of e-cigarettes.


"We found that there's a lot of misinformation, that youth and parents often think that e-cigarettes are a 'healthy' alternative to traditional tobacco. What we know, though, is that e-cigarettes often contain nicotine, which is a powerfully addictive substance."

Michigan’s new law legalized use of marijuana for people 21 and older. Bergeon says the new report found that high school students thought a third of them were using marijuana. But in reality only 12-percent do.


"Our concern is that, with recreational (marijuana) passing, they will continue to see it as safer and safer for them to use. Now, regardless of what your view on adult marijuana use is, I think most of us can agree that teens using marijuana is not something that we want to see."