Analysis: Tax Increases on Cigarettes Don’t Influence Youth Marijuana Use

Bozeman, MT: Tax measures enacted to increase the costs of cigarettes do not inadvertently influence more young people to switch to marijuana, according to data published in the National Tax Journal.

A trio of economists assessed whether increased taxes on cigarettes influenced young adults to gravitate toward marijuana instead. 

They reported, “The spillover effect of cigarette taxes on youth marijuana use has been the subject of intense public debate. Opponents of cigarette taxes warn that tax hikes will cause youths to substitute toward marijuana.We find little evidence to suggest that teen marijuana use is sensitive to changes in the state cigarette tax.”

Authors also analyzed the effect of medical and recreational marijuana legalization laws upon youth cigarette and cannabis use. Consistent with prior studies, they reported, “We find that both state MMLs [medical marijuana laws] and RMLs [recreational marijuana laws] are associated with decreases in teen marijuana consumption, consistent with the hypothesis that selling to minors becomes a relatively risky proposition for licensed marijuana dispensaries.”

Full text of the study, “Cigarette taxes and teen marijuana use,” is available from the National Tax Journal. Additional information is available from the NORML fact sheet, ‘Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates.