Americans Are More Likely to Support Legal Weed Than Legal Tobacco, Surveys Say
Over 57% of Americans believe that cigarettes should be illegal and nearly 90% believe that weed should be legal.
Published on March 9, 2023

A solid majority of Americans want the feds to ban cigarettes, but an even greater majority want weed to be fully legalized, according to two new major public surveys. 

Many recent polls have already reported that support for legal tobacco products has been steadily plummeting since the turn of the century. But according to a new research brief by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opposition to legal tobacco has reached a new peak. This new study, which was created to “inform federal, state, and local efforts to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes,” asked 6,455 adults whether or not they thought tobacco should be banned entirely.

According to the new study, 57.3% of respondents said that they would support a federal policy that banned the sale of all tobacco products. A slightly higher majority (62.3%) back a ban on menthol cigarettes, which are “disproportionately marketed and advertised to certain population groups (eg, people who are Black, youth, people who identify as LGBTQ+),” according to the CDC. Most respondents also said they were in favor of retail policies targeted at trying to stop people from smoking cigarettes or helping them quit.

A good number of cigarette smokers even believe that tobacco should be banned. Over a third of respondents who said that they currently smoke still support a ban on menthol cigarettes, and a quarter support banning all tobacco sales. The US FDA is already working to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, and over a hundred US communities have banned these products as well. The feds have not announced any plans to actually prohibit the sale of all tobacco products, though, despite the majority opposition.

Another recent survey shows that enthusiasm for cannabis reform is growing as fast as support for tobacco is dwindling. A Pew Research poll from last October found that nearly 90% of all Americans now support legalizing cannabis in some form. That total includes 59% who believe that cannabis should be legal for both recreational and medicinal use and 30% who endorse legalizing medical marijuana only. Only 10% of respondents said that they think weed should remain completely illegal.

The ongoing shift from tobacco to weed has been well-documented. Dozens of popular polls have found that the overall percentage of cigarette smokers has dropped steadily over the past decade, while cannabis use is climbing. Last year, a Gallup poll reported that only 11% of Americans still smoke cigarettes – the lowest total the company has ever seen. A more recent poll also found that twice as many young people smoke weed than smoke cigarettes. Twice as many Americans believe that cigarettes are more dangerous than weed, as well, and science has confirmed that they are correct.

The two new surveys clearly show that the divide in acceptance of tobacco and cannabis is as wide as it has ever been. But although the majority of Americans believe that tobacco should be illegal and weed should be legal, the feds still continue to enforce their outright ban on cannabis while allowing cigarettes to be sold practically everywhere.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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