SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) Drug abuse is a constant issue teenagers have faced throughout the decades.
And today’s generation is no different.
“Someone says, ‘I got drunk this weekend.’ Okay, so did half the high school,” said one South Bend high school student.
While students say alcohol and prescription drugs are becoming more prevalent among teenagers, cigarettes are no longer popular.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cigarette use among minors has been steadily declining since 2000.
Only 5.5 percent of 12th-graders say they have smoked a cigarette.
But there’s a new tobacco-based product gaining popularity among the youth.
South Bend high school students say it’s all about JUULs now.
A JUUL is a brand of e-cigarette that comes with nicotine pods in various flavors. The amount of nicotine in one JUUL is the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.
“People just casually ‘JUUL’ in school when they’re walking down the hallway,” said another student.
According to a 2016 report by former U.S. Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, use of e-cigarettes by young adults was higher than of adults 25 years and older.
Murthy also reported that e-cigarettes are the “most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes in 2014.”
JUUL told WNDU that it is working to prevent underage use of the product, adding that the company "strongly condemns the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors."
Students say that while cigarette ads in magazines were popular when their parents were teens, peer pressure is what makes these new tobacco products popular.
A male student said, “I think that’s one of the things that’s different from our parents…it’s (tobacco products) not in commercials anymore. It’s not from these big companies anymore.”
“It’s from each other. It’s from our peers, from their social media.”
The American Psychological Association report that 48 percent of Millennials worry about the negative effects of social media on their physical and mental health, compared to 37 percent of Gen. Xers and 22 percent of Baby Boomers.
“We get so caught up with the mindset that we need social media. We need this acknowledgement from other people...Does it really matter if somebody cares that I’m eating popcorn by myself at home?”
The most popular social media sites among U.S. teens and young adults are Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram.
High school students say they prefer Snapchat because of the spontaneous nature that their peers take pictures of daily life, over the filtered pictures of Instagram.
“I think that’s why everyone uses Snapchat more, because when you go on Instagram, there’s so much pressure," said a female student.
"And it’s like these are great pictures, but that’s not the real person. You’re seeing a front of them.”
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To hear more about the stress high school students face, click on this