US: States that legalize cannabis see reduced tobacco use, study finds

While some public health experts have expressed concerns that the legalization of cannabis could fuel a rise in the use of tobacco products, a new study instead concludes that state-level cannabis reforms are mostly associated with “small, occasionally significant longer-run declines in adult tobacco use.”

Researchers did find “consistent evidence” that the adoption of state recreational cannabis laws (RMLs) led to a slight uptick in cannabis use among adults—of between about two and four percentage points, depending on the data source—but tobacco didn’t follow that trend.

If the apparent substitution effect from cigarettes to cannabis that’s being driven by legalization were extended nationally, it could result in healthcare cost savings worth more than $10 billion per year, the study concluded.

“We find little empirical support for the hypothesis that RMLs increase the net consumption of tobacco, as measured across a wide range of combustible tobacco products as well as [e-cigarettes],” they wrote. “Rather, the preponderance of evidence points to small, occasionally significant longer-run declines in adult tobacco use.”


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