For the first time, more adults in the United States smoke marijuana than cigarettes, Gallup poll finds

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For the first time in a Gallup poll, slightly more American adults say they smoke marijuana than cigarettes, although alcohol remains by far the most commonly used drug.

Sixteen percent of adults in America report using marijuana, compared to 11% percent who smoke cigarettes, according to the survey of 1,013 adults in July. Just a year ago, 16% said they smoked cigarettes and 12% considered using cannabis.

The change in attitude towards weed and tobacco started years ago. There are now 37 states that allow the sale of marijuana to registered patients and 19 states and the District of Columbia that allow recreational sales to adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. New Jersey has had a medical marijuana law since 2010 and a personal-use marijuana sales law since 2021.

Meanwhile, cigarette consumption has steadily declined since the 1950s, when 45% of adults were smokers, Gallup said. Decades of medical research and anti-smoking campaigns have convinced the public of the dangers of smoking. A 2019 Gallup Poll found that 83% of Americans thought smoking was “very harmful” and a further 14% said it was “somewhat harmful”.

“Recognition of the harms of smoking is nearly universal,” Gallup senior scientist Frank Newport wrote in an Aug. 26 article highlighting the poll results.

Smoking cigarettes is clearly on the decline and is expected to become even rarer in coming years,” Newport wrote.

In New Jersey, 13% of the population smoked, according to 2019 data contained in the latest Healthiest Counties Report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The increase in the number of people who identify as marijuana users from 12% to 16% is “not statistically significant,” Gallup said. But it is a sign that this population will probably increase. The survey found that 48% said they had tried the drug, up from 40% in 2015 and 33% in 1985.

The majority of the population, 68%, supports the legalization of marijuana. People are divided on whether legal marijuana benefits society, depending on whether they’ve tried it for themselves or not. Gallup found that 66% of those who had tried marijuana believed legalization benefited society, compared to 35% of people who had never used drugs who shared this view.

Christine Delnevo, director of the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies, said she saw good news in the survey.

“Smoking is at an all-time low,” Delnevo said.

Laws that limit where people can smoke, increase taxes, and the age of people who can buy cigarettes are among the policies and laws that have lowered smoking rates, she said. .

The market has also changed, she said, with the arrival of e-cigarettes, she said. Gallup’s poll does not ask if people use e-cigarettes, nor does it include participants under the age of 18. Delnevo said she doesn’t think the exclusion of e-cigarette use skews the results. “The prevalence of smoking in general is much lower than that of cigarettes – about half that of adult cigarettes.”

Adults who vape nicotine products “have used e-cigarettes to get away from combustible cigarettes,” she said. “Evidence from randomized clinical trials increasingly shows that e-cigarettes are effective in quitting smoking.”

As for the increase in cannabis use, Delnevo said public health researchers should closely monitor the health effects of smoking cannabis.

“It’s important to recognize that it’s the combustion of tobacco or cannabis – that is, combustion – that creates the smoke that is harmful to lung health,” she said. “And as with tobacco and nicotine products, how cannabis is consumed matters in the context of negative health effects.”

Alcohol is by far the most consumed substance, with 45% saying they drink it at least once a week and 23% considering themselves “occasional” drinkers, according to the survey. These results are largely the same since 1939, Gallup said.

Two-thirds even agreed that alcohol is unhealthy and harmful to drinkers, and 71% said it “had a negative effect on society,” Newport wrote. “The majority of Americans recognize that the consumption of alcohol has negative effects both on the user and on society in general.

“But unlike the case of smoking, there is no evidence that these attitudes led to a decrease in alcohol consumption,” Newport wrote.

The poll is based on telephone interviews with a random sample of adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia from July 5 to July 26, 2022. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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Susan K. Livio can be attached to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

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