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Why it matters that more college students now smoke pot than cigarettes.

Higher education has been getting a whole lot higher lately.

Why it matters that more college students now smoke pot than cigarettes.

In case you've missed the memo, cigarettes have lost their luster lately — especially to those crazy college kids.

Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a historically low percentage of American adults — a mere 15.2% — are choosing to light up on a regular basis.

That's great! Although, not very surprising. Cigarette use by Americans has been dwindling for several years now. And that includes for college students.


Photo via iStock.

But not all smoking is falling by the wayside for millennials obtaining a higher education (if you get my drift). New research found that marijuana is actually more popular now among college students than it has been throughout the past three decades.

For the first time, more college students report smoking pot than cigarettes.

The University of Michigan's newly released Monitoring the Future study found that, in 2014, only 5% of college students said they smoked cigarettes daily — down from 19% in 1999.

Lloyd Johnston, a lead researcher on the study, said the drop is "particularly good news," seeing as these same students had fewer rates of cigarette smoking while they were still in high school. So their smoke-free (or nearly smoke-free) habits apparently had staying power.

Photo via iStock

Here's where it gets interesting. A higher percentage of college students — 5.9% — reported smoking marijuana either on a daily or near-daily basis (which was defined as on at least 20 of the past 30 days for the study).

That 0.9% difference is a big one. It marks the first time daily weed-smoking habits surpassed daily cigarette-smoking habits for college students, the study concluded.

This historic report should encourage us to review some of our drug policies. Because, let's face it, they need some updating.

Here are the facts.

Smoking cigarettes:

  • Legal across the board (for adults).
  • Terrible for you. Like "the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States" terrible. As in, responsible for more than 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year terrible.

Smoking weed:

  • Illegal for recreational purposes in nearly all U.S. states and for medicinal purposes in 27.
  • Terrible for you? Well, certainly not good for you. But it depends. Some research suggests smoking pot may negatively interfere with areas of the brain that regulate emotions and anxiety. But a notable 20-year study published in 2012 found that — while smoking cigarettes harms your lungs (without a doubt) — occasionally smoking marijuana does not. And when it comes to treating various health ailments, many doctors agree — medicinal marijuana works. So, as researchers have said, more data is needed to be certain of the negative longterm affects of smoking pot on our bodies.

Shouldn't facts like these affect our policies on marijuana? I mean, if just as many (if not more) young people prefer weed over cigarettes, shouldn't legal weed be on the table as a viable option? Legalizing and regulating pot may actually help in keeping it out of the hands of children, after all, and legal weed may help reduce our expensive and overpopulated prison system without sacrificing public safety.

The good news is, more Americans are recognizing these realities. As Gallup found in November 2014, a slim majority of Americans now support legalizing weed — up dramatically from a decade prior, when that figure stood at just 34%.

If America's acceptance of weed is changing — on and off college campuses — maybe it's time Washington takes note.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
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The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

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Sometimes a politician says or does something so brazenly gross that you have to do a double take to make sure it really happened. Take, for instance, this tweet from Lauren Witzke, a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Witzke defeated the party's endorsed candidate to win the primary, has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, supports the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was a U.S. government inside operation, and has called herself a flat earther.

So that's neat.

Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."

First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.

Next, let's see how Twitter thwapped Lauren Witzke straight into the 21st century by proving her wrong in the most delicious way. Not only did people share how they or their relatives and friends have successfully "assimilated," but many showed that they went way, way beyond that.

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