The marijuana debate continues and this time round, it is in relation to the dwindling tobacco industry in America. Many are asking, “Could marijuana legalization be the hope for tobacco manufacturing companies in California?” The decision taken by voters in California to decriminalize marijuana was a big victory for those who advocated for its use. However, some see other effects more than just the benefits to cannabis users. They believe that it could be of help to the tobacco business as well. Presently, cigarette smoking has gone down and cigarette manufacturing companies have been looking out for ways in which they can expand their market. These views were expressed by a group of researchers in Los Angeles, California. They believe that it is important for the state to be cautious with its bid to implement the use of recreational marijuana round the state. If not, the state government may roll back some of the developments it had achieved in combating tobacco smoking.
Now that citizens can buy marijuana just like cigarette, experts believe that tobacco smoking could be renormalized. One associate professor from the UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, Mr.Michael Ong said that the tobacco industry could get revived if the move on recreational cannabis was not executed carefully. Therefore, following through the regulation efforts will be important especially with the involvement of public health officials. California has made major developments in fighting the smoking of tobacco. On the other side, an executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Mr. Ethan Nadelmann said that there is no proof that marijuana is a gateway to increased tobacco smoking.
Tobacco smoking among the adults is rated the second-lowest in the entire country according to the California Department of Public Health. There was a significant drop of over 50% on the number of adults smoking cigarettes between 1988 and 2014. This resulted into reduced heath care costs and a considerable reduction in diseases related to the use of tobacco. The achievement made against tobacco smoking over the years is as a result of various factors. They include restricting smoking to certain zones, taxes on tobacco and restriction of broad-based campaigns on media and the advancement of programs targeting withdrawal by the smokers. However, there has been an increased use of e-cigarettes in recent times. Individuals aged between 18 and 24 years account for 10% of e-cigarette users. Tough regulations through tax seem to have hit the tobacco industry hard. It may even be pushed lower through Proposition 56 that proposes an additional $2 tax for each cigarette pack. The proposition also seeks to increase taxes imposed on e-cigarettes that have nicotine and other tobacco products. Revenue collected will be used for healthcare payment and increased funding for tobacco prevention and control.
So, what does marijuana’s legalization have to do with increased tobacco consumption? In California, adults aged 21 years and above can grow, purchase and possess small quantities of cannabis for individual use. Proposition 64 also regulates marijuana delivery services and imposes taxes with an objective of paying up for prevention programs and drug education. Marijuana is presently the most used substance among adolescents. Tobacco leaf wrapped together with marijuana, commonly known as blunt, is more socially acceptable among young people. They also consider this version less risky than smoking cigarettes. Interestingly, young people were reportedly going to use marijuana considering its benefits. Some experts are worried about blunts since they contain both marijuana and nicotine. So, it is the fear of generalization that some people are concerned about.
Basing their argument on Proposition 64, some people believe that cannabis may act like a smoke inhalation trainer. In that case, they think it will be a gateway to the use of tobacco. These views were expressed by one professor Robert Jackler from the Stanford School of Medicine. According to Jackler, both marijuana and tobacco are marketed in the same way. Advertisers deem them as good for relaxation effects and for easing stress. Therefore, there is a tremendous relationship between these two substances. He further reiterated that tobacco manufacturers may easily endeavor to exploit this overlap to get into the marijuana market. For the tobacco manufacturers, they presently have a lot of influence on state regulations and laws and may endeavor to establish small dispensaries and then include cannabis as one of their many products.
Tobacco smoking is down in the United States and therefore, the industry is out looking for substitute products. Therefore, analysts think that the legalization of cannabis in California may give tobacco a new entry back to the market and that they are well equipped to exploit this opportunity. Actually, it didn’t just start the other day. The tobacco industry made considerations to join the cannabis market during the 1960s and 70s but didn’t succeed. Will it make it this time and challenge California’s efforts to control it?