Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Medical Marijuana Laws and Tobacco Use
54 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2016 Last revised: 18 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 2016
The public health costs of tobacco consumption have been documented to be substantially larger than those of marijuana use. This study is the first to investigate the impact of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on tobacco cigarette consumption. First, using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), we establish that MMLs induce a 2 to 3 percentage-point increase in adult marijuana consumption, likely for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Then, using data from the NSDUH, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and the Current Population Survey Tobacco Use Supplements (CPS-TUS), we find that the enactment of MMLs leads to a 1 to 1.5 percentage-point reduction in adult cigarette smoking. We also find that MMLs reduce the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers, suggesting effects on both the cessation and intensive margins of cigarette use. Our estimated effect sizes imply substantial MML-induced tobacco-related healthcare cost savings, ranging from $4.6 to $6.9 billion per year.
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