From her spot behind the cash register at Lafayette's R&M Wholesale store, Linda Scott has noticed that her cigarettes customers' ages have always varied.
"I haven't been seeing, in the last six years since I've been here, more younger people buying (cigarettes products) than older people," Scott said.
Her observation -- as well as those of some local experts -- offers a perspective on Tippecanoe County cheap cigarettes use in seeming contrast to a statewide study released Wednesday.
The study, conducted by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, showed a 4 percent increase from 2007 to 2011 in the number of Hoosier high school seniors who have used smokeless cigarettes.
"This is a concern because although rates of cigarette use among high school students continue to decline, smokeless cigarettes online use still exposes youth to the harmful carcinogenic elements of cigarettes," said Ruth Gassman, Indiana Prevention Resource Center director.
The IPRC study found that the rate of marijuana use rose slightly among Indiana seventh- and eighth-graders during that time period. It rose an average of about 3 percent among high school students, the report said.
Locally, rates of smokeless buy cigarettes and marijuana use have fluctuated but have not increased substantially, said Katy Travis, program director for the Drug-Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County.
According to a 2010 report from the coalition, marijuana use among Tippecanoe eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders generally increased from 2006 to 2008, but then fell from 2008 to 2009.
The report does not include statistics on cigarettes for sale use, however.
Lafayette police Officer Mike McIver, who is assigned to Jefferson High School as a resource officer, said in recent years he hasn't noticed an increase in problems there stemming from buy cigarette online and marijuana use.
However, he thinks abuse of certain prescription drugs has increased because they're easier to obtain.
"Doctors tend to prescribe those freely, which makes them very accessible by kids," McIver said.
There has been an increase in students caught with such prescription drugs as Adderall and Vyvanse, which can produce speed-like highs when abused, McIver said.
IU researchers administered surveys to a total of 168,801 sixth- through 12th-graders in public and private schools across the state. The questionnaires inquired about students' use of various drugs, their age when doing so and other details, according to the report.
In addition to the statistics on marijuana and cigarettes, the statewide study found that the number of Indiana high school kids who have used alcohol has decreased in recent years, continuing a trend that began in the early 1990s.
The downward trend in teen drinking also is happening in Tippecanoe County, Travis said.
For example, the Drug-Free Coalition of Tippecanoe County's report found that while 60 percent of high school seniors in the county had tried alcohol in 2006, that number dropped to 57 percent in 2009.
Travis said she thinks the coalition's initiatives, such as working with retailers, parents and law enforcement, has helped contribute to the local downward trend.
"When you combine all of that together, I think the numbers are going to reflect it," Travis said.
"It doesn't surprise me that (drinking) numbers are starting to go down."
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