Marijuana Use Associated With Increase in Cigarette Smoking

 Gabrielle Levy
  1st-Apr-2018

PEOPLE ARE MORE LIKELY to begin smoking, or less likely to quit, if they also use marijuana, new research indicates.

Marijuana smokers were nearly three times more likely to begin smoking than non-marijuana smokers, a study from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health concluded.

The study was published this week in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and relied on data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. It surveyed nearly 35,000 adults between 2001 and 2002 and again between 2004 and 2005.

People who reported using marijuana in the first wave were 2.9 times more likely to have become a daily cigarette smoker by the time they were surveyed in the second wave three years later.

Marijuana users in the first wave were even more likely to start a non-daily cigarette habit by the second survey wave, their odds increasing 4.45 times over non-marijuana smokers.

The survey defines non-daily smoking as someone who reports smoking at least once in the previous year.

Using marijuana was also associated with being less likely to quit smoking, and users were only about half as likely to kick the habit by the second wave of the survey than non-marijuana smokers.

Former smokers were much more likely to renew smoking than those who don't use marijuana, with the odds of relapse into a daily smoking habit increasing by 4.18 times, and 5.24 times for those who restarted a non-daily habit.

Incidence of smoking has been steadily declining since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began keeping track, down from 42.4 percent of American adults who reported smoking at least once a month in 1965 to 16.8 percent in 2014. (Teenagers in high school smoked more than adults between 1991 and 2007 but have trended below adults since 2009.)

The percentage of Americans ages 12 and up who use marijuana has ticked up slightly, from 6.2 percent in 2002 to 8.4 percent in 2014.

Researchers say they can't definitively say if there's a causal relationship between marijuana and cigarette smoking. But as marijuana use becomes more frequent – and laws surrounding its use, for medical and recreational use, become more relaxed – a link between it and cigarette smoking could endanger the progress in reducing cigarette smoking and the resulting health problems.

"Developing a better understanding of the relationship between marijuana use and cigarette use transitions is critical and timely as cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease, and use of cannabis is on the rise in the U.S.," said Renee Goodwin, the study's senior author.

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