Down, down, down and down.
That’s what the recently released 2021 Student Health and Risk Prevention survey revealed about cigarette, alcohol, marijuana, and vaping among Tooele County youth.
Julie Spindler, Tooele County School district prevention director, presented highlights of the SHARP survey results to the Tooele County School Board during their Dec. 14, 2021 meeting.
The survey was conducted last March. The data released comes from 5,272 sixth- to 12th-grade students in the Tooele County School District.
SHARP collects data on substance use, antisocial behavior, community and school climate and safety, and social and emotional health.
Done every two years, the survey is part of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health’s statewide prevention needs assessment. Students’ answers are anonymous. Parental permission is required.
When it comes to cigarette use, the 2021 survey showed a downward trend among Tooele County youth since the survey first started in 1998, according to Spindler.
“From 1998 to now, lifetime and 30 day use of cigarettes has significantly decreased from the time we started collecting data,” Spindler said. “We had a small increase [this year], but nothing significant.”
Students that reported on the 2021 survey that they had used cigarettes in the last 30 days increased from 1.7% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2021.
The use of alcohol continued a declining trend among Tooele County students. Most students in Tooele County don’t drink alcohol, according to the survey.
In 1998 almost 25% of Tooele County students surveyed said they had used alcohol in the last 30 days. In 2021, the response to the 30-day alcohol use question on the survey yielded a 6.2% “yes” answer.
Students that reported on the 2021 survey that they had used alcohol in the last 30 days increased from 1.7% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2021.
Previous 30-day use of marijuana reported by Tooele County students on the SHARP survey jumped a little in 2019 from 2017’s 6.0% to 8.2%. That number dropped to 5.9% in 2021.
Spindler offered a theory for the 2019 jump.
“There was a little spike in 2019,” said. “This may have been due to the legalization and increased acceptability of marijuana use,” she said. “It has gone down quite a bit since then.”
E-cigarette use for vaping was first included on the 2011 SHARP survey with 6.1% of Tooele County students that participated in the survey reporting that they had used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.
As a relatively new trend, e-cigarette or vaping increased among youth both statewide and in Tooele County. By 2017, 14.7% of Tooele County students that participated in the SHARP survey reported that they had used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days. In 2019, that dropped to 9.6%.
“What we are doing appears to be working,” Spindler said. “I give a huge shout-out to every teacher that does anything with our prevention efforts.”