New research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Washington, D.C., supports the theory that cigarettes are a gateway drug to marijuana.
Stated by study author Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, an investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, “Contrary to what we would expect, we also found that students who smoked both tobacco and marijuana were more likely to smoke more tobacco than those who smoked only tobacco,”. These findings are most interesting in the sense that more tobacco users are sought out even if they previously used marijuana.
Dr. Moreno based the study on two schools of incoming college students. Students were interviewed prior to entering college and again at the end of their freshman year regarding their attitudes, intentions and experiences with substances. Specifically, students were asked if they had used tobacco or marijuana ever in their lives and in the past 28 days. Researchers also assessed the quantity and frequency of marijuana and tobacco use in the past 28 days.
The results of the study are as follows: 33 percent of the 315 participants reported lifetime tobacco use, and 43 percent of lifetime users were current users. Also resulted from the study was the fact that tobacco users were more likely to use marijuana over those who did not use tobacco.
These findings were significant in the case that two states have legalized the use of marijuana within the past year. Dr. Moreno states, “While the impact of these laws on marijuana use is a critical issue, our findings suggest that we should also consider whether increased marijuana use will impact tobacco use among older adolescents.”
Overall, the findings have proven that tobacco users have used it as the gateway drug to marijuana. Many other researchers state that marijuana is the gateway drug to other harder drugs; cocaine, ecstasy, meth, etc. But if tobacco users are halted at an earlier age, will this lower overall drug usage? Will tobacco and substance usage decrease if preventative measures are taken places in schools and other social media icons practice it? Only time will tell the effectiveness of preventative measures taken on our younger generation.