National surveys show that more Americans are in favor of legal cannabis than legal tobacco, illustrating the gains the marijuana policy reform movement has made over the last three decades while cigarette smoking has become less and less popular since peaking in the 1960s.
In one survey, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 57% of Americans said that they would support “a policy prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products,” according to a
Taken together, the findings of the two surveys illustrate the growing public perception that cannabis is safer than tobacco, according to a report from The Hill. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death, according to the CDC, leading to public health efforts in many states to reduce access to cigarettes. In the November general election last year,
Cannabis is Less Addictive than Tobacco
In contrast, studies have shown that cannabis is less addictive than tobacco and that marijuana smoke is less harmful to the lungs than cigarettes. Health experts warn, however, that smoking cannabis may still pose significant health hazards.
Restrictions on tobacco smoking, which began in the 1970s, have grown increasingly popular as the health risks of cigarettes became apparent. All states except Wyoming have enacted restrictions on smoking in public areas or in the workplace. Additionally, federal law limits the sale of cigarettes to adults aged 21 and older, and all 50 states have levied excise taxes on cigarettes.
Although public health experts do not expect a national ban on tobacco products in the near future, many hope that the growing negative opinion of tobacco now shared by a majority of Americans will lead to federal regulations to make cigarettes less addictive and less attractive to young people.
“I don’t know of anyone in my peer group that’s in favor of banning tobacco,” Adam Goldstein, a professor and director of tobacco intervention programs at the University of North Carolina medical school,
Legal Cannabis Continues to Gain Steam Across U.S.
While tobacco use has been declining in the United States over the past five decades, the availability of legal cannabis has risen sharply over the 27 years. From the passage of the first ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana in California in 1996, cannabis policy reform measures have been passed in most U.S. states, including 21 that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults.
Marijuana remains completely prohibited in only three states — Idaho, Kansas and Nebraska —according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Medical marijuana has been legalized in 37 states, and 10 more allow patients to use low-THC cannabis formulations.
“I think all states, within a short period of time, will have medical marijuana,” Goldstein said.
But cannabis remains illegal, even for medicinal purposes, at the federal level. And an end to the nationwide ban does not seem to be coming anytime soon, despite a
“That lack of action is really problematic,” said Michael Sofis, director of research at Cannabis Public Policy Consulting, a group that works with state governments. Among other concerns, he said, “it is almost impossible to get research funding on cannabis on the federal level.”