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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Medical Marijuana Laws and Tobacco Use

Anna Choi, Dhaval Dave, Joseph J. Sabia

NBER Working Paper No. 22554
Issued in August 2016, Revised in February 2018
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Health Economics, Law and Economics

The public health costs of tobacco consumption have been documented to be substantially larger than those of marijuana use. This study is the first to investigate the impact of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on tobacco cigarette consumption. First, using data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), we establish that MMLs induce a 2 to 3 percentage-point increase in adult marijuana consumption, likely for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Then, using data from the NSDUH, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and the Current Population Survey Tobacco Use Supplements (CPS-TUS), we find that the enactment of MMLs leads to a 1 to 1.5 percentage-point reduction in adult cigarette smoking. We also find that MMLs reduce the number of cigarettes consumed by smokers, suggesting effects on both the cessation and intensive margins of cigarette use. Our estimated effect sizes imply substantial MML-induced tobacco-related healthcare cost savings, ranging from $4.6 to $6.9 billion per year.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22554

forthcoming at the American Journal of Health Economics

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