Survey Says Americans Are Choosing Pot Over Cigarettes

Cannabis has officially eclipsed tobacco in the U.S.
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More Americans are smoking marijuana than cigarettes, according to a new survey, marking a milestone shift in consumer habits in the United States.

The data, compiled as part of Gallup’s annual “Consumption Survey” and released last week, showed that only 11% of Americans reported themselves as cigarette smokers––a new low since the pollster first started asking the question in the 1940s.

Conversely, around 16% of Americans identified as current cannabis smokers, according to Gallup.

For the first time, the pollster asked Americans if they are current users of cannabis edibles, with 14% reporting that they are.

The findings were foreshadowed by the previous decade, when dozens of states and cities ended the prohibition on pot and Americans turned away en masse from tobacco––often in favor of smokeless nicotine vapes that may or may not be safer.

In 2019, Gallup’s “Consumption Poll” found that only 15% of Americans reported as cigarette smokers, at the time a new low and substantially lower than the 45% of U.S. adults who said they were back in the 1940s. That poll showed that 12% of Americans reported as marijuana smokers.

“Smoking cigarettes is clearly on the decline and is most likely to become even more of a rarity in the years ahead. This reflects both public awareness of its negative effects and continuing government efforts at all levels to curtail its use. Smoking remains legal in general but is prohibited in many public places, offices, modes of transportation and in private places across the U.S. Each pack of cigarettes carries draconian warning messages about their harmful effects,” Gallup’s Frank Newport wrote in his analysis of the latest survey.

Cannabis has perhaps never been more accessible in the U.S. and pot smokers never more ubiquitous––despite the ongoing federal prohibition.

“Despite its widespread use, alcohol’s downsides have been recognized in the U.S. for centuries. This awareness reached a climax over a hundred years ago, when the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — passed by Congress and ratified by 46 of the 48 states — banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol. While the resulting Prohibition may have actually lowered the consumption of alcohol as intended, it had numerous other unanticipated negative consequences and was repealed some 13 years after it took effect,” Newport wrote.

Gallup released findings last year that found a new high of 68% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal.

But as far as its effects, the country is split.

In the latest “Consumption Poll,” 53% said that marijuana has a positive effect on its users, while 45% said it has a negative effect.

But when it comes to marijuana’s effect on society, 49% said it is positive, while 50% said it is negative.

Gallup’s latest survey found that alcohol remains far more prevalent than either marijuana or cigarettes. About 45% said they had an alcoholic drink in the last week, while 23% said they have one occasionally. A third identified as complete abstainers.

“The future of alcohol drinking presents the most fascinating sociological case study out of the three substances. Alcohol use has been remarkably steady over the past 80 years (the time during which Gallup has measured it). In fact, alcohol has been widely used in the U.S. since the nation’s founding. Its use continues to be intertwined with many aspects of American culture, including social and — in some instances — religious rituals. Alcohol is also a major contributor to the nation’s economy. If the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, then the best guess would be to predict no significant change in alcohol use going forward,” Newport wrote.

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