US Adults See Smoking Cannabis as Safer Than Tobacco

Similar patterns were seen for exposure to secondhand cannabis smoke vs tobacco smoke.

HealthDay News US adults increasingly perceive daily smoking of cannabis and secondhand exposure to cannabis smoke as safer than tobacco smoke, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in JAMA Network Open.

Julia Chambers, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues examined trends in public perceptions of safety of cannabis vs tobacco smoke. The analysis included web-based survey responses from 5,035 US adults participating in the Ipsos KnowledgePanel (2017, 2020, and 2021).

Researchers found that more than one-third of participants felt that daily smoking of cannabis was safer than tobacco, with a significant increase in views favoring the safety of cannabis vs tobacco over time (36.7% in 2017 vs 44.3% in 2021). A similar pattern was seen for secondhand cannabis smoke (35.1% in 2017 vs 40.2% in 2021). A shift toward a safer view of cannabis was more likely among participants who were younger (adjusted odds ratio for ages 18 to 29 years vs 60 years and older, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.8; P = 0.01) or not married (adjusted odds ratio, 1.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.0 to 1.4; P = 0.01); participants who were retired were less likely to move toward a safer view of cannabis (adjusted odds ratio vs working, 0.8; 95% confidence interval, 0.7 to 0.9; P = 0.01).

“Given that these views do not reflect the existing science on cannabis and tobacco smoke, the findings may have important implications for public health and policy as the legalization and use of cannabis increase,” the authors write.

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