New Poll Finds American Marijuana Use Roughly Even With Cigarette Smoking

Thomas Edwards of High Times Reports:

Your chances of encountering an American who smokes cigarettes is just about as likely as crossing paths with one who smokes weed.

That’s just one takeaway from a new Gallup poll, which found that the rate of cigarette smoking in the country has plummeted to an historic low. According to the survey, just 15 percent of American adults said they smoked a cigarette in the last week—the lowest it’s been in Gallup’s 75 year history of researching the habits.

For a point of reference, 45 percent of American adults answered “yes” to the same question in the 1950s. At the beginning of the 21st century, the rate hovered around 30 percent. 

But the same poll, which was released Thursday and conducted July 1-12, found that 12 percent of Americans said they smoke cannabis. That number is higher than the seven percent who reported cannabis use back in 2013, but consistent with the 11 percent-13 percent who identified as pot users since 2015.

The decline in cigarette use can be felt anecdotally throughout the United States, where smoking bans in bars are virtually universal and where use of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” has spiked dramatically in the last decade. 

To that end, the poll released on Thursday represented the first time that Gallup asked Americans whether they had “vaped” in the last week; eight percent of individuals who were surveyed said they had. 

Gallup found a sharp generational gap when it came to e-cigarette use: nearly 20 percent of adults aged 30 and younger said they had vaped in the last week, compared with eight percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 49, and just three percent between the ages of 50 and 64. Less than one percent of seniors reported vaping use, according to Gallup. 

That age gap is less pronounced when it comes to marijuana use, Gallup said. 22 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 identified as pot users, compared with 11 percent between the ages of 30 and 49 and 12 percent between 50 and 64.

The standout data point from the poll, however, is the marked decline in cigarette use among Americans, a significant departure from a habit that has been a part of the country’s culture and economics for generations. 

In detailing its findings, Gallup said that perhaps the most significant implication “for the future of the tobacco industry is that—even with recreational use of marijuana legal in only 11 states—higher percentages of young people report smoking marijuana and vaping than say they smoke traditional cigarettes.” 

“This contrasts with adults over 30, who remain more likely to be cigarette smokers than vapers or marijuana users,” Gallup wrote. “Most of these older Americans would have developed their smoking habit before vaping and marijuana were as readily available as they are today. But now that young people have those options, the future of U.S. tobacco sales looks more tenuous.”

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