Gallup: Americans Perceive Cannabis to Be Less Harmful than Either Alcohol or Cigarettes

Washington, DC: Most US adults believe that marijuana use poses fewer risks to health than does either the use of alcohol or cigarettes, according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup. 

According to the survey, 95 percent of adults perceive smoking cigarettes to be either “very harmful or somewhat harmful” to health. Eighty percent of adults say that consuming alcohol is harmful. 

By contrast, only 58 percent of respondents described marijuana cannabis as either “very harmful or somewhat harmful.”

Gallup’s poll comes just days after survey data published in the journal JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Network Open reported that a plurality of Americans perceive tobacco smoke exposure to be more hazardous than marijuana.

Gallup’s findings are consistent with those of other recent polls, including data published earlier this year reporting that most Americans consider marijuana to be significantly less harmful than cigarettes, alcohol, and opioids.

Several scientific analyses – such as those here and here – comparing the health burdens associated with the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis have concluded that marijuana poses far fewer hazards to health. Specifically, a paper published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal estimated that health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers of alcoholic beverages than they are for those who use cannabis, and that they are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. The paper’s authors concluded, “In terms of [health-related] costs per user: Tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.”

Detailed poll results are available from Gallup.