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Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
NCES 2010-015
July 2010

Indicator 20. Cigarette, Alcohol, and Drug Use

Students who use alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs such as marijuana are more likely than their peers to experience low academic achievement, truancy, and other discipline-related issues (Bryant et al. 2003; Bryant and Zimmerman 2002). In the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, children between the ages of 12 and 17 and adults between the ages of 18 and 25 were surveyed to determine whether they had used alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana in the past 30 days.

In 2007, among youth between the ages of 12 and 17, about 16 percent reported drinking alcohol in the past month, 10 percent reported smoking cigarettes in the past month, and 7 percent reported using marijuana in the past month. These percentages varied by race/ethnicity. A higher percentage of White (18 percent) and Hispanic (15 percent) children ages 12 to 17 reported drinking alcohol in the past month than did their Black and Asian peers (10 and 8 percent, respectively), with the percentage of Whites exceeding that of Hispanics. In addition, the percentage of White 12- to 17-year-olds drinking alcohol in the past month was higher than the percentage of youth of two or more races (13 percent) doing so. Cigarette use was reported by a higher percentage of Whites (12 percent) than Blacks (6 percent), Hispanics (7 percent), Asians (3 percent), and youth of two or more races (9 percent). Although there appear to be differences in the percentage of American Indians/Alaska Natives and the percentages of Blacks and Hispanics reporting cigarette use in the past month, these differences were not statistically significant. Marijuana use was reported by 7 percent of White 12- to 17-year-olds, higher than the percentages reported by Black (6 percent), Hispanic (6 percent), and Asian (4 percent) 12- to 17-year-olds.

Among young adults ages 18 to 25, a higher percentage of Whites (68 percent)  and young adults of two or more races (63 percent) reported having at least one alcoholic drink in the past month than did Blacks, Hispanics, or Asians (whose percentages ranged from 50 to 51 percent). Fifty-two percent of American Indians/Alaska Natives reported cigarette smoking in the past month, higher than the percentage of most other races—41 percent of White young adults reported cigarette use in the past month, and the percentages of Black, Hispanic, and Asian young adults who reported cigarette use in the past month ranged between 26 and 30 percent. There was no measurable difference in the percentages of American Indian/Alaska Native young adults and young adults of two or more races who reported cigarette smoking in the past month, in part due to large standard errors. A higher percentage of White and Black young adults ages 18 to 25 reported using marijuana in the past month (18 and 16 percent, respectively) than did Hispanic (12 percent) and Asian (9 percent) young adults. In addition, the percentage of young adults of two or more races who reported using marijuana in the past month (24 percent) was higher than the percentage of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians who reported doing so.

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education