Overall Comparison of Marijuana and Cigarette Smoking Rates
Marijuana vs. Cigarettes: Young Americans Choose Cannabis, Says Gallup According to a recent Gallup poll, more Americans now smoke marijuana than cigarettes. The data shows that 17 percent of Americans reported smoking cannabis, while only 12 percent reported smoking cigarettes in the past week. The difference is particularly significant among young adults, with 26 percent of those aged 18-34 using marijuana compared to just 5 percent who smoke cigarettes. Additionally, 18 percent of adults aged 35-54 smoke marijuana, surpassing the 16 percent who smoke cigarettes. Although adults aged 55 and older are more likely to smoke cigarettes (13 percent) than cannabis (11 percent), the rates of cannabis use among all age groups are higher than cigarette smoking.
It is important to note that the question in the poll specifically asked about smoking marijuana, which may not accurately reflect the overall current cannabis use due to the availability and popularity of non-smokable cannabis products such as edibles, tinctures, and vapes.
Smoking Rates Among Different Age Groups
The poll revealed that 26 percent of young adults aged 18-34 reported using cannabis, marking a substantial difference compared to the 5 percent who smoke cigarettes in this age group. Among adults aged 35-54, 18 percent reported using marijuana, surpassing the 16 percent who smoke cigarettes. However, adults aged 55 and older were slightly more likely to smoke cigarettes (13 percent) than to use cannabis (11 percent). These findings indicate a generational preference for marijuana use among younger Americans.
Increase in Reported Marijuana Smoking Since 2013
The Gallup poll also highlighted a significant increase in reported marijuana smoking since 2013, when the question was first added to the annual Consumption Habits survey. In 2013, only 7 percent of respondents reported smoking marijuana, while the latest data shows that 17 percent of Americans now use cannabis. This doubling of reported use in just a decade reflects the changing attitudes and increasing acceptance of marijuana in society.
Americans’ Lifetime Use of Cannabis
Approximately 50 percent of Americans have reported trying cannabis at least once in their lifetime, according to the Gallup poll. In 1969, when Gallup first asked about cannabis experimentation, only 4 percent of respondents admitted to trying it. This significant increase in lifetime cannabis use indicates a growing acceptance and familiarity with the substance among the American population.
Support for Marijuana Legalization
The poll also found that support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high, with 70 percent of Americans backing the policy change. As more states legalize marijuana, public support for the reform continues to rise. The correlation between state-level legalization and increased support suggests that firsthand experience with legal cannabis may contribute to changing attitudes towards its legalization.
Perceptions of Marijuana Compared to Other Substances
According to a separate survey by Gallup, Americans perceive marijuana to be less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, and vaping products. This perception aligns with the increasing public awareness of the potential health risks associated with alcohol and tobacco use. The survey also found that Americans consider marijuana to be safer than smoking tobacco, a view supported by previous research indicating that exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke is seen as less dangerous than secondhand tobacco smoke.
Longer-Run Declines in Adult Tobacco Use Associated with Marijuana Legalization
In addition to the changing perceptions and attitudes towards marijuana, state-level marijuana legalization has been associated with longer-run declines in adult tobacco use. A study published in May 2023 found that states that have legalized marijuana experienced small to occasionally significant declines in adult tobacco use. This suggests that the availability of legal cannabis may have contributed to reducing tobacco consumption among adults.
Perceptions of Morality Surrounding Cannabis Use
Despite the ongoing shifts in public opinion and the increasing acceptance of marijuana, some moral considerations persist. However, the Gallup poll showed that 70 percent of Americans now view smoking cannabis as morally acceptable. This percentage is higher than the views on the morality of various other issues, including gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty, and abortion.
VP Kamala Harris Touts Marijuana Pardons
Vice President Kamala Harris has expressed support for pardoning individuals convicted of marijuana offenses, particularly addressing the disproportionate impact of such convictions on Black and young voters. Harris’s stance aligns with the growing recognition of the racial disparities in cannabis-related arrests and convictions and the need for criminal justice reform. By prioritizing marijuana pardons, Harris aims to address historical injustice and promote equity in the criminal justice system.
In conclusion, the Gallup poll demonstrates the significant shift in marijuana use compared to cigarette smoking in the United States. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to consume cannabis than tobacco. The expanding acceptance of marijuana is reflected in the increasing support for its legalization and changing perceptions of its harm compared to other substances. Additionally, state-level marijuana legalization has been associated with declines in adult tobacco use, further highlighting the potential benefits of cannabis reform. As public opinion continues to evolve, policymakers and society must adapt to address the changing landscape of marijuana use and public sentiment.