Significantly more Americans now say they smoke marijuana than cigarettes—with young people being more than five times more likely to consume cannabis than tobacco, according to new Gallup polling data.
Overall, 17 percent of Americans say they smoke cannabis, compared to 12 percent who reported smoking any cigarettes in the past week.
The difference is especially stark when it comes to younger adults. Among those aged 18-34, 26 percent said they use cannabis, compared to just 5 percent who smoke cigarettes.
Eighteen percent of adults aged 35-54 smoke marijuana, which is also more than smoke cigarettes (16 percent).
Adults 55 and older, however, were slightly more likely to smoke cigarettes in the past week (13 percent) than who smoke cannabis (11 percent).
The marijuana question—which asked specifically about whether people “smoke” the substance—likely does not reflect overall current cannabis use given the range of non-smokable products that people consume such as edibles, tinctures and vapes.
“Americans’ reported marijuana smoking has more than doubled since 2013, when Gallup first added the question in its annual Consumption Habits survey,” the polling firm said. “That year, seven percent said they did.”
“Age is a significant driver of the likelihood of smoking marijuana,” it said.
Also, the survey shows that roughly 50 percent of Americans say they’ve tried cannabis at least once in their lifetime. When Gallup first polled people about whether they’ve experimented with marijuana in 1969, just four percent of respondents said that they had.
As the state legalization movement has expanded, so too has support for the reform, with Gallup finding a record 70 percent of Americans back the policy change.
At the same time, amid increased awareness about the harms of tobacco, rates of cigarette smoking have reached historic lows. Americans consider marijuana to be less harmful than alcohol, cigarettes, vapes and other tobacco products, Gallup found in a separate survey released last year.
Another poll published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last year similarly shows that people increasingly view smoking marijuana or being exposed to secondhand cannabis smoke as safer than smoking or being near tobacco smoke.
A separate survey released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Morning Consult last June also found that Americans consider marijuana to be significantly less dangerous than cigarettes, alcohol and opioids—and they say cannabis is less addictive than each of those substances, as well as technology.
Also, a study published last May found that state-level legalization is associated with a “small, occasionally significant longer-run declines in adult tobacco use.”
Meanwhile, a poll Gallup conducted in 2020 also found that 70 percent of Americans view smoking cannabis to be a morally acceptable activity. That’s higher than their views on the morality of issues such as gay relationships, medical testing of animals, the death penalty and abortion.
Photo courtesy of Martin Alonso.