Americans Are Smoking More Weed and Less Tobacco

Two polls this year discovered that Americans were smoking more weed and less tobacco, and at the current rates, the entire country will soon be blazing buds while bidding adieu to cigarettes. But a new survey shows that three major US cities are already ahead of the curve.

According to a report, Nielsen – marketing analytics firm, the same one that compiles TV ratings – surveyed more than 200,000 adults across the country between January 2018 and May 2019 about their cannabis use, though they did not ask if the product had been obtained legally or on the black market. Seattle, for example, was just one of three cities that showed that cannabis bias, not just because there are more pot smokers in these places but they also tend to have fewer nicotine users than other metropolitan regions around the country.


The survey shows that in San Francisco, an epicenter in a state that’s been at the vanguard of the marijuana-legalization movement since medical cannabis was first approved in 1996, is carrying on that legacy in 2019.

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Weed smokers made up 16 percent of the Bay Area’s respondents, whereas 13 percent said they consumed nicotine. Meanwhile, in Portland, 20 percent of respondents said they smoked weed within the past month while only 19 percent said they smoked tobacco or used other nicotine products.

Denver, Colorado, came in fourth place for most weed smokers, even though the Centennial State was the first to launch recreational cannabis sales in 2014. Roughly 18 percent of the Mile High City’s residents said they toked herb within the past month, whereas 19 percent said they used tobacco products in that same time frame.

Nine more states (plus the District of Columbia) have since since legalized recreational use: Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont. Another 22 states have legalized cannabis for medical use only. Polling shows a clear majority of Americans support legal marijuana.


Here are some other notable details culled from the Times’ story on the Nielsen report:

  • The Albuquerque-Santa Fe area has the highest share of cannabis users for a metro area where state law prohibits recreational use;
  • At 14 percent of the adult population, the area comes out 8th among the 70 metro areas surveyed;
  • And Albuquerque-Santa Fe’s cannabis use is even higher than some other cities where recreational use is perfectly legal, including Spokane which weighed in at 12 percent;
  • In Seattle, more than 700,000 people, or 17 per cent of the adult population in the Seattle-Tacoma area, said they had used some form of cannabis in the last month;
  • When measured by just consumption numbers, Seattle ranks fourth overall in cannabis use in the country, behind Portland, Las Vegas and Denver;
  • The typical cannabis user in Seattle had a higher median income (US$78,000) than e-cigarette users (US$67,000) and regular tobacco smokers (US$59,000);
  • Cannabis users in the Emerald City tend to be younger than cigarette smokers, 40 years compared to 44;
  • They are also more likely to be college graduates than either cigarette smokers or e-cigarette users;
  • E-cigarette users were the youngest group surveyed, with a median age of 31;
  • In the end, Seattle residents’ use of cannabis and tobacco pales when compared with the amount of alcohol they consumer: the study shows that nearly half of adults, or 48 percent, had consumed some type of booze in the past week.
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