While tobacco use by teenagers in the East Kootenay is dropping, eCigarette use is on the rise.
This from East Kootenay Addiction Services, who have released detailed results from an adolescent drug use survey conducted in March.
Executive Director Dean Nicholson says about 25 per cent of teenagers in the East Kootenay have tried tobacco, dropping from 37.9 per cent in 2005.
However, eCigarette usage rose to just over 35 per cent, compared to 30.6 per cent in 2015.
“eCigarettes are fairly new on the market,” Nicholson says. “I think what we are seeing is a lot of kids are moving towards that and away from tobacco. Anything that is moving kids away from tobacco is great in our opinion. We certainly are well aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use.”
Over 34 hundred students filled out the questionnaire, with over 58 per cent of teens claiming they’ve used alcohol at least once, dropping from 76.8 per cent in 2005.
30.4 per cent of high schoolers have tried Marijuana, down from 37.9 per cent in 2005.
“Alcohol use is still dropping off, marijuana use is still dropping off and by that, what I mean is the number of kids reporting that they’ve ever used in their lifetime continues to drop,” Nicholson says. “So this is what we want to see, we want to see that the rates are dropping. The majority of kids in our region aren’t using substances and if they are, they are using them infrequently.”
Nicholson adds that the levels of other drugs, like cocaine, mushrooms and LSD remain very low, with less than 6 per cent of teenagers saying that they have used these drugs.
An area of concern for Nicholson is impaired driving. He says more kids are saying they have driven after using marijuana, compared to drinking and driving. With new legislation coming around legalizing marijuana, Nicholson says people are concerned about how police can monitor impaired driving after using marijuana.
This year, 14 per cent of teens say they have driven after drinking alcohol, compared to 33 per cent in 2009. Meanwhile, marijuana rates have remained relatively the same, with 23 per cent of teens driving after using marijuana, only a one per cent drop from 2009.
The Society also found about 11 per cent of youth use opioids for non-medical use, but did not identify use of fentanyl specifically.
The survey polled students in Grades 7 through 12.
East Kootenay Addiction Services Society, Executive Director Dean Nicholson
– Jeff Johnson