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New National Poll Finds Americans Consider Cannabis Safer Than Cigarettes and Alcohol

Cannabis Safer Than Cigarettes

New National Poll Finds Americans Consider Cannabis Safer Than Cigarettes and Alcohol

 New National Poll Finds Americans Consider Cannabis Safer Than Cigarettes and Alcohol

More people think cannabis is safer than E-cigarettes, alcohol, and opioids.

In a new national poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and Morning Consult, Americans generally agree that cigarettes are unsafe (84 percent) and addictive (87 percent), but one in five (21 percent) still report smoking daily. 

Large majorities believe alcohol, opioids, and e-cigarettes are addictive, with about two-thirds saying alcohol and opioids are unsafe and more than three-quarters saying e-cigarettes/vaping are unsafe. 

People believe marijuana is less addictive than other substances surveyed, 64% compared to 87% for cigarettes and 84% for alcohol. 

Just under 40% consider marijuana very or somewhat unsafe compared to 64% for alcohol, 66% for prescribed opioids, and 84% for cigarettes. 

The survey, which complements the association's Health Minds Monthly* poll, was conducted April 20-22, 2023, among a sample of 2,201 adults. 

The results have a plus or minus 2 percentage points margin of error. 

When asked about addiction, people surveyed reported how often they used a particular substance or engaged in a certain behavior and whether they considered it safe and/or addictive. The result:

 Cannabis Safer Than Cigarettes Stats

APA President Petros Levounis, MD, MA, said, "It's clear that we've gotten the message through that cigarettes are dangerous and addictive," and that "we can help prevent more Americans from developing other potentially addictive behaviors, such as drinking alcohol and using technology." 

"Vaping, for example, is just as addictive, if not more so, than smoking cigarettes. We can also make sure people are aware of our current safe and effective treatments for substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. Addiction treatment works."

APA is launching a public awareness initiative on addiction and substance use disorders that will last all year, starting this month with a focus on e-cigarettes, opioids later in the summer, alcohol in the winter, and technology next spring.

When asked about their opinions, American adults are divided on whether addiction is the result of personal weakness (47 percent say yes, 53 percent say no), but an overwhelming majority (93 percent) agree that substance use disorders can be treated. 76 percent agree that addiction is a medical disorder, and 76 percent agree that they are preventable.

A majority of adults (71 percent) said they would feel they knew how to help if they or someone they knew was struggling with addiction. That said, because of its association with opioid addiction and safety, there is a gap between adults who have heard of naloxone or Nalcon, a life-saving drug now available over the counter, and those who know where to find it. Three in five adults (58%) say they have seen, read, or heard of Narcan and/or naloxone before, but only one-third (35%) say they would know where to find it in the event of an opioid overdose.

"In 2022, opioids caused more than 100,000 deaths," APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., MPA, said, "While it is encouraging that the majority of Americans view substance use disorder as a treatable condition, we can do more to ensure that more people and all in our communities know about and have access to naloxone, which can save lives. "

The findings are consistent with the shifting public perceptions of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana use.

Fewer people view cannabis as a dangerous substance, and as more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational use, this trend has been growing. In comparison, public education and awareness campaigns have led to more understanding of the harms of tobacco and alcohol as well as the growing opioid epidemic.

American Psychiatric Association

Founded in 1844, the American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the United States. APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world, with more than 38,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illness. APA's vision is to ensure access to high-quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.