A new study has found a strong link between smoking cigarettes and daily use of marijuana. Smokers are seven times more likely to use marijuana daily than people who don’t smoke, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Trends in marijuana use
The data for this study was collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2002 through 2014, a total of 725,010 people. The paid-participants told researchers how often they smoked cigarettes and when they most recently used marijuana. The results found that smoking cigarettes and marijuana use are commonly used side by side. Daily marijuana use has increased in the past decade among both daily smokers (9% in 2014 compared to 5% in 2002) and non-smokers (8% in 2014 compared to 3% in 2002). Even former smokers are more likely to use marijuana daily (3% in 2014 compared to 1% in 2002). “More people are smoking cannabis on a daily basis,” said Renee Goodwin, the lead investigator and an adjunct associate professor at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
This trend was strongest for people within the ages of 12 and 17. In 2014, 28% of daily smokers and 13% of non-daily smokers in this age group used marijuana daily, implying that about 40% of 12- to 17-year-olds who smoke cigarettes also used marijuana daily. Young cigarette smokers are more than 50 times likely to use marijuana daily than their non-smoking counterparts. Recent studies have shown a decline in drug use among teens, with one exception: marijuana.
This study has shown marijuana use is a complicated issue. Some researchers believe if teens smoke marijuana first, then they could transition into using cigarettes, and vice versa. This is a new twist on the gateway theory. Marijuana is the most common used illicit drug, used by about 22 million Americans. With many states moving towards legalization for recreational use, many people could interpret marijuana as safe to use, especially teens. “There may be a lot of confusing messages among youth today about whether and to what degree cannabis use is harmful, especially in comparison with cigarettes,” Goodwin said. “In many places, youth are clear that cigarettes are harmful, but with marijuana especially amidst rapid legalization, this is not clear.”
It is clear, however, that smoking cigarettes increases the likelihood of marijuana use. It’s important for parents to have a good dialogue with kids and explain the risks associated with both cigarettes and marijuana.