Cigarette smoking and cannabis use overlap—over 90 percent of people who have used cannabis are cigarette smokers or have smoked at least once in their lives. A new large study from Australia reveals that cigarette smoking is linked to how early a person is exposed to cannabis or begins using it and also to a person’s initial experiences with the drug. The study, of nearly 4,000 Australian twins and siblings between ages 21 and 46, found that regular cigarette smokers were more likely to report both an earlier opportunity to use cannabis and trying the drug at an earlier age. Regular cigarette smokers also reported more positive initial experiences with cannabis (e.g., enjoying the taste and experiencing pleasant reactions like relaxation) and were more likely to smoke cannabis a second time within a week of their first try. This study points to the importance of viewing cannabis use within the context of tobacco use. It also suggests the possibility that the ongoing decline in cigarette smoking among youth could potentially bring corresponding reductions in cannabis use, although such a trend is not yet apparent in national data.
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