American Legacy Foundation/CASA* Report: Reducing Teen Smoking Can Cut Marijuana Use Significantly | Center on Addiction

American Legacy Foundation/CASA* Report: Reducing Teen Smoking Can Cut Marijuana Use Significantly

American Legacy Foundation®/CASA* Report: Reducing Teen Smoking Can Cut Marijuana Use Significantly

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2003

A 50% reduction in the number of teens who smoke cigarettes can cut marijuana use by 16% to 28%, according to a new report by the American Legacy Foundation® and CASAColumbia (CASA*) at Columbia University. The findings are based on a survey of 1,987 teens aged 12 to 17 and show a troubling connection between teens who smoke cigarettes and marijuana use.

According to the report, 60% of repeat marijuana users smoked cigarettes first. Teens who smoke cigarettes are 14 times likelier than their counterparts who have never smoked to try marijuana, 6 times likelier to be able to buy marijuana in an hour or less and 18 times likelier to say most of their friends smoke marijuana.

“This underscores—for parents, teachers, policymakers and anyone else concerned with the welfare of American children—the importance of intervening to end cigarette smoking in order to help prevent other drug use,” said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Legacy Foundation®. “There is a powerful message for elected officials and policymakers in these findings. Media and public service awareness campaigns – such as the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the public service announcements of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America – should direct much of their efforts at stopping kids from smoking cigarettes.”

“Congress wisely required ONDCP to obtain a match of airtime from the networks, but it has only sporadically been used to educate our youth on the health effects of tobacco and alcohol – two drugs that cause by far the greatest amount of disease and death in youth – and throughout their life cycles,” continued Healton. “We believe that the match from the networks should be used in part for the truth® campaign since it is working and is imperiled,” she said.

“President George W. Bush committed last year to reduce the use of all illegal drugs by 10% over two years and 25% over five years,” noted Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Chairman and President of CASA. “Because of its widespread use, the only way to achieve such reductions is to cut marijuana smoking significantly. This new report shows that attacking teen cigarette smoking is critical to attaining the Administration’s goal. The Department of Health and Human Services 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health released earlier this month found that some 5 million 12-to 17-year-olds—have used marijuana. Therefore, the number of marijuana users could be reduced as much as 800,000 to 1.4 million (16% to 28%) if teen smoking were cut by 50%.”

The Report Also Found:

  • 77% of teens say cigarette smokers are more likely to smoke pot
  • Teens who are current cigarette smokers are more likely to be repeat marijuana users than one time marijuana users. Among teens who report trying marijuana, those who do not smoke cigarettes are likelier to have tried marijuana only once
  • 55% of teens who are current cigarette smokers report that more than half their friends use marijuana, compared with only 3% of those who have never smoked cigarettes

Even though the risk for teenage cigarette smokers is far greater than that of youth who have never smoked, teens who don’t smoke are not immune from using marijuana. Among teens who have tried marijuana, 1 in 3 never smoked cigarettes.

The American Legacy Foundation® is dedicated to building a world where young people reject tobacco and anyone can quit. Located in Washington, DC, the foundation develops programs that address the health effects of tobacco use through grants, technical assistance and training, youth activism, strategic partnerships, counter-marketing and grass roots marketing campaigns, public relations, and outreach to populations disproportionately affected by the toll of tobacco. The foundation’s national programs include Circle of FriendsTM, Great Start, a Priority Populations Initiative, and truth®. The American Legacy Foundation® was created as a result of the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) reached between attorneys general from 46 states and the tobacco industry. Visit

CASAColumbia (CASA) at Columbia University is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA's missions are to: inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives; assess what works in prevention, treatment and law enforcement; encourage every individual and institution to take responsibility to combat substance abuse and addiction; provide those on the front lines with tools they need to succeed; and remove the stigma of substance abuse and replace shame and despair with hope.

With a staff of 74 professionals, CASA has conducted demonstration projects in 60 sites in 32 cities and 21 states focused on children, families and schools, and has been testing the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment, monitoring 15,000 individuals in more than 200 programs and 5 drug courts in 26 states. Visit

*CASAColumbia at Columbia University is neither affiliated with, nor sponsored by, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (also known as "CASA") or any of its member organizations with the name of "CASA."


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