Co-use of cannabis and tobacco or nicotine is associated with worse functioning, including poorer mental and physical health, says a new RAND Corporation study. It also leads to greater problematic behaviors such as fighting, skipping school, being fired and getting in trouble with the police.
Senior Behavioral Scientist at the RAND Corporation and lead author of the study, Joan Tucker said the researchers examined the many different ways that cannabis and tobacco or nicotine products are used together. Tucker said young adults who used cannabis and tobacco or nicotine together, either using one right after the other or by mixing the products together, tended to consume more marijuana and tobacco or nicotine products. And they report poorer functioning and more problematic behaviors compared to those who did not use both products together. “There is a growing concern that as more states legalize marijuana, there also will be an increase in tobacco use because the two substances may be used together. Co-use of cannabis and tobacco could reverse some of the progress made on reducing rates of tobacco use,” said Tucker.
In recent years, cannabis and tobacco or nicotine co-use in the United States has risen among young adults, coinciding with greater availability and diversity of cannabis, tobacco and vaping products. National data shows that in the US, young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to use cannabis, tobacco or nicotine products than any other age group. Among the young adults in the RAND survey, about half reported using cannabis during the past year, and 43 per cent reported using some type of tobacco or nicotine product during the same period. About 37 per cent reported co-use of the substances at some point during the past year. More than 80 per cent of the young adults who reported past-year marijuana use also reported past-year tobacco use. “How these products are used together matters in terms of potential health consequences and functioning among people in their late teens and early twenties,” Tucker said. “Our findings suggest that we can no longer just think about the consequences of tobacco use or marijuana use alone; we have to think about them together.”
Tucker said programs need to be designed to educate people about the health risks of tobacco or cannabis. She added that both substances have to be addressed together.