A recent study has found that state-level marijuana policies are largely linked to modest, sporadic, longer-term declines in tobacco use among adults. The implementation of state recreational cannabis laws (RMLs) did, according to the research, result in a small increase in adult marijuana usage of between 2% to 4%, depending on the source of data. However, tobacco use did not follow this pattern.
The results were published last month in the “Journal of Health Economics” by researchers from Bentley, Georgia State and San Diego State universities. They noted the study was the first to thoroughly investigate how legalizing marijuana for recreational use will affect tobacco usage. The researchers used data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
The study found that cigarette smoking rates had significantly decreased since the first report in 1964, with male adult rates falling from 55% to 16% and female rates falling from 35% to 12%. The study notes that there is considerable disagreement over the reasons for these declines, but the majority of public health professionals advocate for maintaining the improvements.
The study’s authors agree that their examination of the NSDUH data reveals that legalization results in a (mostly) statistically negligible decrease of 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points in tobacco usage, which includes cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigarettes. RMLs have minor, laggardly tobacco effects that are concealed by this null effect, however. “We observed that adult tobacco usage decreases by roughly 1.4% to 2.7% three or more years after the establishment of an RML,” the authors said.
The study also looked at states that legalized marijuana earlier than others to make sure. The findings, it claims, offer some evidence in favor of the theory that tobacco usage decreased in several of the first-to-adopt states, particularly in Washington and Colorado, which also experienced the biggest increases in marijuana use after RML was passed.
According to the researchers, the decline in tobacco use in states where it is legal is mainly concentrated where recreational cannabis dispensaries are permitted as well as where the population of men is higher. They claim that these results are in line with the theory that some adults may substitute tobacco for recreational cannabis and vice versa.
Ultimately, the authors concluded that the study’s projections point to a drop in smoking prevalence of up to 5 million individuals, which would result in annual savings of $10 billion in healthcare costs associated with tobacco use.
These studies that highlight some of the additional societal benefits of cannabis legalization help to change perceptions about this plant. As attitudes change, business opportunities keep increasing for not only “cannabis-touching” companies but also ancillary ones such as Advanced Container Technologies Inc. (OTC: ACTX).
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