We've Cut Cigarette Smoking By Half — And We Didn't Have To Arrest 20 Million Americans To Do It

An expanded version of this essay, calling on the federal government to legalize marijuana in a manner similar to cigarettes and alcohol, is now online on The Hill‘s influential Congress blog.
Because The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the national media, it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.
According to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control, fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes than at any time in modern history.
“The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record,” Reuters reported. This is less than half the percentage (42 percent) of Americans who smoked cigarettes during the 1960s.
Imagine that; in the past 40 years tens of millions of Americans have voluntarily quit smoking a legal, yet highly addictive intoxicant. Many others have refused to initiate the habit. And they’ve all made this decision without ever once being threatened with criminal prosecution and arrest, imprisonment, probation, and drug testing.
By contrast, during this same period of time, state and local police have arrested some 20 million Americans for pot law violations — primarily for violations no greater than simple possession. And yet marijuana use among the public has skyrocketed.
There’s a lesson to be learned here — if only our lawmakers were willing to listen.

0 thoughts

  1. Our lawmakers are not making the laws for us, that is the problem. It is good to see that fewer and fewer people are smoking cigarrettes. Now they can all smoke weed!

  2. I think it is great that people that smoke cigarettes are able to QUIT. Now if we can get this goverment to QUIT arresting Cannabis smokers that would even be better. Much better,Cannabis will not kill you, like cigrettes,lung disease, heart disease,not to mention, the loved ones that have to endure to smell of stinky cigargettes!
    Not one was put in jail for that deadly drug!!!!

  3. Ciggarettes kill.Legal. Alcohol kills.Legal cannabis…Illegal? Who is man to say that a plant that has been on this planet for millions of years is suddenly evil and vile.? If the Guardian Of Dimentions(G.O.D.) didn’t want us to have it, he would’nt have blessed us with this wounderful plant.Peace.

  4. Most people still do not understand why i have said since the 1980’s that the Drug , Alcohol and Tobacco Companies are the ones who are putting out all those deceptive ads against marijuana . With marijuana……… Alcohol , Drug and Tobacco sales will decrease . Get it , yet ? All these dangerous drugs are plummeting and there are even less car accidents nowadays due to the increasing use of marijuana v/s alcohol . Truth is…marijuana should be used by those who drive aggesssively because it’ll actually make you drive better . I’m not encouraging anyone to smoke herb but , in some agressive drivers it’ll make you a better driver .

  5. I got to ad on here………..i DO NOT advocate driving while under the influence of THC since not everyone reacts the same to its effects but , ONLY if it takes the agression out of your driving making you a better driver should it be used .

  6. The fact of the matter is that the FED wants you to use drugs. I know it sounds entirely bonkers but lets look at the facts. People use drugs. This isn’t an opinion, it is straight out fact. people smoke, people drink, snort, inject, and ingest drugs. Think you are an exception..you are WRONG! So given this fact, if I want to make more money off of a “drug” than I can make on it by virtue of supply and demand, I have to put a premium on it.
    The first premium being morality. If you are a good little christian, you don’t do “anal sex”. If you are a good little mormon, you don’t smoke or drink…etc. The second is tax, because we know anything that positively alters human consciousness immediately merits hyper-taxation (an all encompassing duty meant to instill guilt, and dissuade over-consumption regardless of which god you believe in). The third premium being age. Age has some biological merit and as such seems to be the most universal premium observed by human cultures. The fourth premium is legality.
    Legality is the premium that is loose of supply and demand, rationality, religious morality, age, and is the ultimate in taxation. If something is illegal, it instantly becomes 100X more valuable to it’s consumers than it could ever hope to be in a legal market.

  7. The only problem is that they did have to cut our freedoms in order to drop the smoking rate look at how many states and counties have passed no smoking in public area bans as well as even fines for up to 20 feet around them. if freedom for marijuana is to be attained then we need to help out the cig. smokers as well. otherwise the same thing will happen they make it legal then restrict it so you cant use it anywhere.
    and then not only tax you fine you and i bet they may even arrest you when the fines wont work anymore.
    smoking bans….
    bad for economics
    ive already seen how the bars and resturants in my area have struggled because of this.

  8. Tim, I agree, to an extent. On private property, in a private business, it should be up to the operator of the business to decide what sort of smoking restrictions he or she will implement depending on the desires of his or her customers. As far as smoking in genuinely PUBLIC places, parks, sidewalks, college campuses, what have you. It is a different issue. If the people decide, directly or through representatives, that they do not want smokers in their public places that is their choice.

  9. A good soul
    I sit and watch ad after ad on TV for this drug and that drug to cure anything from ED to legs that will not be still. It makes me think I need to make another plea to other Americans again today. I fight the War on Drugs (US) it waste 100 billion and ruins thousands of lives every year. We could fund universal health care for all Americans then the drug users that want or need help could get it. All we ask is stop putting us in jail. For against, or neutral ending this war would be a WIN/WIN for every American!! Please help if you can, read the facts look back in history its all there..
    WAR ON DRUGS (for idiots or perhaps just uninformed citizens)
    Legal Drugs = Made and patented by major drug companies and thanks to our leaders (house/senate) they can charge what ever they want 1000s of percent bringing them billions in profits. Part of which is spent supporting PACs (political action committees) they pay our leaders (house/senate) to keep a few drugs illegal and keep putting non-violent good Americans in jail.
    Illegal Drugs = Originally made illegal because they were enjoyed by mainly people of color the poor and powerless (it was used as a new way to enslave them). The most used drug, the Hispanics introduced marijuana and blacks enjoyed it then as today. It was said (in1937) marijuana makes darkies think they are as good as whites! Our FED government already holds the Marijuana patent! The major drug companies cannot make money on our Herb of choice. It is estimated the major drug companies (legal drugs) would lose 80 % of their profits if marijuana were make legal. It cures or helps with insomnia, depression, chronic pain, headaches, minstrel pain cramps, muscle spasms, and thousands of other day to day problems or if you just want to get a buzz like drinking a few beers without the health problems (marijuana has no down side like liquor no hangover cannot overdose will not kill you or your liver kidneys like alcohol does it can be ingested or smoked). Also the buzz, sorry, but if you use it every day as a prescribed medicine you do not get the same buzz just relief from your particular problem (mine is depression). We do not have a PAC and cannot afford to buy the vote of our so-called leaders. But we are the estimated 75% that our so-called leaders keep ignoring, jailing, lying to, lying about, and enslaving. We are tired and need your help please!
    Get rid of drug deals and drug dealers over night sell it over the counter in Wal-Mart for Gods sake (the legal drug guys do). You can also grow it yourself if you are so inclined you could have free medicine. That is why the major drug companies do not want it legal neither do the major alcohol pushers, GEO corp. they run the private jails and charge as much as 45K a head per year (over 2,800,000 of your fellow citizens are casualties of the War on US so far). They all have PACs and our leaders are bought and paid for (they lie) please help us stop the madness called the War on Drugs (US).
    Give me liberty or give me death!

  10. Its just ridiculous that Marijuana is illegal. If Alcohol is legal, and people can over dose on it and die, why is pot illegal still? There seems to be a double standard here. It is impossible to overdose while smoking pot. Its all natural, unlike alcohol which is a man made chemical substance. Pot has proven medicinal qualities the large drug pharmaceuticals don’t like because they can’t enough money off of it. I am married and forty something, I haven’t smoked for years, because I was berated and abused when I was in my twenties for smoking pot, which I only did occasionally. My wife criticizes and tongue lashes me for even thinking of smoking a reefer because it is illegal. I do not see the harm. I will obey her because I love her, but I don’t see the harm.

  11. I enjoy occasional, purely “recreational” cannabis use, however I am very disinclined to hand it over so carelessly to the government- any part of it for that matter. Something that the feds have fought against for so long will now be handed over control of the entire subject?
    Yes, this does solve many problems, but why can’t we as a people find a less savage way to deal with the matter than simply putting a price tag on it? This is a test of morality in the people of the country, elected or not. When people don’t know how to deal with a problem effectively, they take short cuts and try to make it as far as they can. We must forget about these shortcomings entirely and look at the bigger picture. It would be simple, pure hypocrisy for big brother to suddenly slap a tax on marijuana. Life in the United States does not need to run around money right now. We’ve become the richest place in the world and when that doesn’t matter anymore what will? Hopefully compassion, humanity, values, and peace.
    Don’t let me sound like a hippie here, dudes, but as much as I support the decriminalization of marijuana, I cannot submit myself to supporting an action such as this.
    Continue to let them tax those preservitive-filled stoagies we all know and love. Marijuana is for the people, and by the people. Doesn’t that saying sound familiar? So I say exercise it.
    Thanks for hearing my opinion. Peace

  12. I thought you might want to know that even the Hill’s blog is corrupt. It won’t post my comments for some odd reason.

  13. William, that’s strange…I write some pretty scathing and outright insulting things on the HillBlog, in the hopes that our congresscum will read them, and they always post them. I don’t know what’s going on with your postings, but you should check back a few days after you post – it seems to take them a while to post my rants. It may be futile (and since I’m not handing them millions of dollars, I’m pretty sure they don’t pay me any mind) but it makes me feel better!
    The day of reckoning draws nigh for those “leaders” who have robbed us blind, attempted to enforce morality, and otherwise fucked over the regular people of this great nation. The economy is tanking, in spite of the $700 Billion they stole from us to give to their corporate masters, and when enough people are no longer fat n’ happy they’ll be looking to place blame and exact revenge. I’d hate to be one of those big steaming piles of congresscum when that day arrives…

  14. i’m mad as hell and i’m not going to take it anymore. -the network-
    but i say legalize it and put an end to the police state tactic.
    arrest criminals who actually hurt people, steal, and cause harm.
    what is so malicious about maryjane?
    good parenting is more effective (my opinion)
    fight for your rights people, we can change this law
    i still see a lot of cig smokers in so cal

  15. I am happy to see that someone is thinking with thier brain instead of thier wallet. Marajuana users are “easy pickings” for law enforcement. The more arrests they tally, the more budget dollars they request from Congress for the War on Drugs. History has shown that with increasing marajuana arrests, yearly budgets to the DEA are respectively higher. Personally, I beleive that if they stopped arresting non violent marajuana users for victimless crimes, that taxpayer dollars would be better spent on other more important issues such as identity theft and internet crimes abroad. In the tough economic times we face, our resources could be put to much better use than arresting marajuana users. Unfortunately, many decisions made in Congress are based on economics and politics instead of logic and democracy. This needs to change. I support HR-5842 and HR-5843.

  16. Great article Paul. It’s so baffling that we live with these outdated policies that continue to demonize Marijuana use while glamorizing the use of other, regulated “drugs” (alcohol & tobacco). It’s even more amazing the alcohol can actually kill you if you over-indulge, much like many prescription drugs, while it is scientifically impossible for Marijuana to do the same. Matter of fact, the biggest downside to smoking marijuana responsibly is the stigma! That, and of course threat of arrest, losing your children, your job, financial aid in school, and so many other things that needlessly corner so many young people into an early life of crime that they would otherwise have not lived had the law simply been more balanced.

  17. William,
    Comments are The Hill’s site are moderated, so there is a significant delay between when a reader comments and when that comment is posted. If you visit the site this morning, you will see that comments from yesterday are just now being posted online.

  18. why do you continually remove my comments. They are as expert as any on the planet, including yours.
    I have actually -lived- in the Netherlands, in order to best manage my neuromuscular disease during the period 1993-2007 in order to not be one of the 10 million arrested.
    I speak and read Dutch perfectly. I have made it my business to know the territory there and here, and three weeks ago here in Los Angeles, I had lunch with a prominent member of the Dutch media, Bernard Hammelburg of BNR-newsradio. When I asked about the future of the coffeeshops, he said, and I quote, “you tell me.. you know as much about it as I do.”
    Given that, and that my neuromuscular disease responds very very well to cannabis (HMSN type X1 aka CMT type X1) and my Medical marijuana recommendation doctor is Frank Lucido, and has been for 9 years to cover the times when I was in the USA.
    Further, my early advocacy of anti-prohibition cost me a career in Republican (presidential) politics, in which I had much time and effort invested, for I was the most well known and outspoken advocate in the entire state of Nevada between 1990 and 1993, when I left for the Netherlands, and Emerson College’s International Marketing Master’s program in Maastricht.
    I am simply in this thing every way there is to be in in, including being a multiple 4 figure donor to NORML!
    Thus I am an expert, and I have been published elsewhere in print and on the web (google me and marijuana) in both long and short form. These contributions take time to make, even though this was written for the Hill Blog, as you suggested.
    I do not write everyday, so I cannot be accused of trying to take over a forum.
    Why do you do this?
    Astonished and somewhat insulted,
    Eric Johnson

  19. Yeah, I’ve posted a couple on the Hillblog this AM and nothing yet.
    About “aggressive” drivers? Me. I’m an asshole when I get behind the wheel. Do I drive after I smoke? No, not right away but after an hour or so I drive then I’m Mr. Nice Guy!
    I kinda like Jake’s post, #15; he’s got a good point too! Legalization could destroy our culture and pollute our stashes but I can’t help thinking of all the people that have been screwed over when arrested. It was about 42 years ago when I got my “flogging”.

  20. Just in response to moldy, it is necessary to stress all the harm that the war on drugs has caused to millions of people. Do not forget that there have been over 20 million now imprisoned for drug-related charges. So I second your comment, legalization will bring about far more benefits than the policy that is currently in place (to state the obvious haha)

  21. Fear not. Sooner or later they will get around to arresting cigarette smokers. They’ve already starting fining bar owners here who refuse to comply.
    The “intellectual elitists” don’t smoke so by-God you shouldn’t either. If you don’t believe me just ask their bartenders.

  22. my post on the Hillblog also was not posted. I guess well thought out posts speaking out against prohibition are just to rough for the hacks to handle. what a freakin shame.

  23. To Eric Johnson:
    NORML’s blog is moderated so sometimes it takes a bit of time before comments get posted. If you check previous articles, you’ll see that your comments have been posted.
    Laura @ norml

  24. I have tried and tried to post to the article on the HILL. and it stays at 25 comments… Nothing seems to be happening…!!! I’m sure there is close to if not over 100 posts now…

  25. Let’s look at the facts:
    In 2006 cigarettes killed 450,000 people, Alcohol killed 18,000 and marijuana 0. There has never been a recorded death from marijuana. Look at the legal vs. Illegal drugs: in the case of legal drugs that any american can walk into a doctors office and get 100,000 people died last year, in the case of ALL (not just marijuana) the illegal drugs 10,000 people died. Whats wrong with that picture?

  26. So the “Hill” never posted my rant and that was before there were any posts, 0, notta. It stopped at 25 so they must be limiting the number to make it look like nobody’s home. Maybe they’re just tired of hearing logical statements with a little truth thrown in?

  27. OK — I’ve got an answer to this. And it will work if we all join in. Since I contribute to Democratic causes, I get a lot of fund raising requests (both in email and snailmai).
    Starting today, I am sending all the requests back saying;
    A personal word to (whoever has sent the letter:
    I’m not sending you guys another penny until I am assured that you will demonstrate a true desire to rethink and CHANGE our failed drug policies, that have only resulted in more arrests AND more drug use.
    Our drug policies should be based on science, not politics.
    Take a page from the Netherlands, and from states that have legalized medical cannabis, and decriminalized small amount of cannabis for personal use. These are place where illicit drug use has gone down.
    Then I sign my name, address and phone number.
    Use your own words, but hit them where is hurts: in the pocketbook.

  28. Even tho, I’m not a weed toker.I am here for all the folks, that do.I f you listen to the news/friends..I can promise you..you will hear that someone was killed from a drunk driver.This happens everyday all over the world. To be honest, I would prefer my children to smoke alittle dope.Than to drink and drive.

  29. It’s gay, dudes…I wrote a deeply historically accurate list of events that led to pot’s prohibition (Civil war > N wins 1865 > ‘grandfather clauses’ written to prevent newly freed slaves from actually voting > grandfather clauses struck down as unconstitutional > @1904 syringe is invented, Bayer markets heroin (? i think) and cocaine > pure food and drug act is passed > unimaginable taxes levied against miniscule amounts of drugs > arrests for tax evasion > doctor’s no longer allowed to provide fixes for addicts > … drug war replaces the lost slave labor with prison labor…targeting minorities, surprise surprise. meanwhile 70+ years later, drugs are purer and cheaper than ever, and dozens of Mexicans are killed each week because the drug lords are far more powerful than the Mexican government.

  30. Oh, yeah, as I was saying, i wrote a deeply accurate history of the war on (some drugs) days ago when this first hit the front page…still not up, still only 25 comments…whiskey tango foxtrot

  31. I also posted mine the first day (same as #19) and it was never posted,censorship american style

  32. The Hill has limited comments to 25 replies?
    I had the same problem the last time I tried to voice support for NORML’s article.

  33. I posted on The Hill blog Saturday the 22nd, and it’s not posted [yet] either.
    Maybe the overwhelming comments on the decrim proposals got somebody up there concerned. We make too much sense. Can’t have lawmakers being confused with the facts.
    Hopefully the delay is due to the Thanksgiving holidays though.

  34. I have argued for years this one statement; “I can go down to a corner store and buy a bottle of legal poison and get intoxicated, along with a pack of carcinogens, yet I cannot use an herb which can be used in it’s natural state and is incapable of causing me to overdose simply because of legal reasons? Hypocrisy is NEVER intelligent. Thank you.

  35. But for those who just can’t quit the habit, this one works best for me. Kicking the habit of smoke is quite a goal. But for those who are having a hard time to do it, there is always an alternative. You can still get the same satisfaction without getting the harmful effects from a traditional cigars.

  36. Hey!!I??ll definitely have to check out Sean??s post. And I love the idea of blogging about a failure and how you learned from it. I??ll have to do that one soon

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