Marijuana use is outpacing cigarette use for first time ever in US, new poll says

For the first time on record, more people in the United States are smoking marijuana instead of nicotine cigarettes, a new Gallup poll reveals. It's the latest evidence to show the dramatic shift in people's attitudes over the substances.

The poll July 5 to July 26 comes as cigarette use has been on a downward spiral over the past decade-plus. Only 11% of adults in the U.S. say they smoke cigarettes nowadays, compared with 45% in the same poll in the 1950s.

On the flip side, marijuana use has been up across the board on the wave of legalization in many U.S. states. Sixteen percent of Americans in the poll indicated they smoke marijuana, including 48% who say they have tried it over their lifetime. Compare that number to just 4% in the same poll from 1969. And a Gallup poll in July revealed that 53% of people say marijuana has positive effects.

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Much of the change can be attributed to perception of harm. Eighty-three percent of Americans indicated cigarettes were considered "very harmful" in the 2019 Gallup study, and 9 out of 10 adults said they believed smoking causes cancer in the 2013 study.

"Smoking cigarettes is clearly on the decline and is most likely to become even more of a rarity in the years ahead," Dr. Frank Newport, a senior scientist for Gallup and the lead author of the study, wrote. "This reflects both public awareness of its negative effects and continuing government efforts at all levels to curtail its use.

"The future of marijuana use is, I would say, somewhat up in the air, but the probability is higher that its use will increase rather than decrease. ...The trend is toward increased legalization, and this is supported by the attitudes of the significant majority of the American public."

Among substances, alcohol stayed relatively consistent over the past 80-plus years. Sixty-seven percent of Americans consider themselves drinkers, about the same number – 63% – who said that in 1939.

"The future of alcohol drinking presents the most fascinating sociological case study out of the three substances," Newport wrote. "Its use continues to be intertwined with many aspects of American culture. ... 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."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Marijuana use outpacing cigarette use for first time, poll says