This story originally appeared on Benzinga
For decades, Gallup has been surveying Americans about their habits and attitudes toward alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis. Here’s what the latest poll reveals.
- It’s the most widely consumed substance of all three
- Around 45% of those surveyed confirm having an alcoholic drink in the past week
- 23% admit to using it from time to time
- One-third say they are “total abstainers’
- Alcohol consumption remains relatively constant through the years: the average percentage of drinkers in 1939 amounted to 63%, compared to 67% in the most recent Gallup poll.
What about cannabis and tobacco?
- About 16% of Americans admit to being regular marijuana users
- Almost half (48%) admit to having tried it at least once. These numbers indicate a significant increase in cannabis use over the past 50 years, as back in 1969, only 4% disclosed trying marijuana.
- In 2013, some 7% declared being regular cannabis users, which stands against 16% measured this year.
- Cigarette smoking has significantly decreased over time. In the mid-1950s, when 45% admitted being smokers, to 11% who declare as one nowadays. Around three in 10 nonsmokers say they used to smoke.
Alcohol remains the vice of choice, significantly favored over cannabis or cigarettes. Its consumption was mostly constant over the decades. Cigarette use, meanwhile, fell to less than a fourth of what it was some 70 years ago.
Cannabis use has modestly surpassed cigarettes and its future use is likely to be shaped based on the cannabis legalization efforts, propaganda, and new research data.
“If the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, then the best guess would be to predict no significant change in alcohol use going forward,” Frank Newport, Ph.D., a Gallup Senior Scientist wrote.
When it comes to how cannabis affects users, opinions are practically reversed, with 53% saying marijuana has positive impacts on consumers and 45% negative.
These results are somewhat unexpected considering that 68.7% of Americans think cannabis should be legal, as per Gallup’s November poll.
Another research from 2019 revealed that 83% of Americans think smoking is very harmful to those who smoke, with another 14% saying it is “somewhat harmful.”
As for alcohol, Americans also seem to agree, with little above seven in 10 Americans recently saying alcohol negatively affects those who use it. And 75% think its effect on society is large is also negative.
Despite recognizing the negative effects of alcohol, society continues to embrace it. Why? On one side, the answer probably lies in the culture, as alcohol has been widely consumed in the U.S. ever since the nation’s founding. We also should undermine, alcohol’s impact on the country’s economy.
“Clearly the social and personal benefits alcohol provides, along with its historical entrenchment in American culture, tend to outweigh consideration of its social and personal costs,” Newport concluded.