We’ve Cut Cigarette Smoking By Half — And We Didn’t Have To Arrest 20 Million Americans To Do It

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 13, 2008


    An expanded version of this essay, calling on the federal government to legalize marijuana in a manner similar to cigarettes and alcohol, is now online on The Hill‘s influential Congress blog.

    Because The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the national media, it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.

    According to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control, fewer Americans are smoking cigarettes than at any time in modern history.

    “The number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped below 20 percent for the first time on record,” Reuters reported. This is less than half the percentage (42 percent) of Americans who smoked cigarettes during the 1960s.

    Imagine that; in the past 40 years tens of millions of Americans have voluntarily quit smoking a legal, yet highly addictive intoxicant. Many others have refused to initiate the habit. And they’ve all made this decision without ever once being threatened with criminal prosecution and arrest, imprisonment, probation, and drug testing.

    By contrast, during this same period of time, state and local police have arrested some 20 million Americans for pot law violations — primarily for violations no greater than simple possession. And yet marijuana use among the public has skyrocketed.

    There’s a lesson to be learned here — if only our lawmakers were willing to listen.

    51 responses to “We’ve Cut Cigarette Smoking By Half — And We Didn’t Have To Arrest 20 Million Americans To Do It”

    1. Urbs says:

      Our lawmakers are not making the laws for us, that is the problem. It is good to see that fewer and fewer people are smoking cigarrettes. Now they can all smoke weed!

    2. Ray says:

      No you just have to kill 20 million!

    3. Jeanne says:

      I think it is great that people that smoke cigarettes are able to QUIT. Now if we can get this goverment to QUIT arresting Cannabis smokers that would even be better. Much better,Cannabis will not kill you, like cigrettes,lung disease, heart disease,not to mention, the loved ones that have to endure to smell of stinky cigargettes!
      Not one was put in jail for that deadly drug!!!!

    4. En.ki says:

      Ciggarettes kill.Legal. Alcohol kills.Legal cannabis…Illegal? Who is man to say that a plant that has been on this planet for millions of years is suddenly evil and vile.? If the Guardian Of Dimentions(G.O.D.) didn’t want us to have it, he would’nt have blessed us with this wounderful plant.Peace.

    5. D Money says:

      Very well put. This should be published and printed out en masse and distributed like WHOA!

    6. Mikmo6 says:

      yeah, I know I’d rather have a pack of Marlboro reds anyday instead of some Kushy weed … NOT!!!

    7. Jerry Droz says:

      Most people still do not understand why i have said since the 1980’s that the Drug , Alcohol and Tobacco Companies are the ones who are putting out all those deceptive ads against marijuana . With marijuana……… Alcohol , Drug and Tobacco sales will decrease . Get it , yet ? All these dangerous drugs are plummeting and there are even less car accidents nowadays due to the increasing use of marijuana v/s alcohol . Truth is…marijuana should be used by those who drive aggesssively because it’ll actually make you drive better . I’m not encouraging anyone to smoke herb but , in some agressive drivers it’ll make you a better driver .

    8. Jerry Droz says:

      I got to ad on here………..i DO NOT advocate driving while under the influence of THC since not everyone reacts the same to its effects but , ONLY if it takes the agression out of your driving making you a better driver should it be used .

    9. Ozlanthos says:

      The fact of the matter is that the FED wants you to use drugs. I know it sounds entirely bonkers but lets look at the facts. People use drugs. This isn’t an opinion, it is straight out fact. people smoke, people drink, snort, inject, and ingest drugs. Think you are an exception..you are WRONG! So given this fact, if I want to make more money off of a “drug” than I can make on it by virtue of supply and demand, I have to put a premium on it.

      The first premium being morality. If you are a good little christian, you don’t do “anal sex”. If you are a good little mormon, you don’t smoke or drink…etc. The second is tax, because we know anything that positively alters human consciousness immediately merits hyper-taxation (an all encompassing duty meant to instill guilt, and dissuade over-consumption regardless of which god you believe in). The third premium being age. Age has some biological merit and as such seems to be the most universal premium observed by human cultures. The fourth premium is legality.

      Legality is the premium that is loose of supply and demand, rationality, religious morality, age, and is the ultimate in taxation. If something is illegal, it instantly becomes 100X more valuable to it’s consumers than it could ever hope to be in a legal market.

    10. tim says:

      The only problem is that they did have to cut our freedoms in order to drop the smoking rate look at how many states and counties have passed no smoking in public area bans as well as even fines for up to 20 feet around them. if freedom for marijuana is to be attained then we need to help out the cig. smokers as well. otherwise the same thing will happen they make it legal then restrict it so you cant use it anywhere.
      and then not only tax you fine you and i bet they may even arrest you when the fines wont work anymore.
      smoking bans….
      bad for economics
      ive already seen how the bars and resturants in my area have struggled because of this.