Smoking stigma turns teens off marijuana

The Dominion Post 11 December 2008

Changing attitudes to cigarette smoking are being linked to a reduction in the number of teenagers smoking cannabis, drug experts say. An Auckland University student health and wellbeing survey released this week found a considerable drop in the rates of cigarette and cannabis use, which the Drug Foundation believed is linked to anti-smoking campaigns. Director Ross Bell said the significant drop in cannabis use – from 39 per cent of secondary school students in 2001 to 27 per cent last year – was a good shift as the drug affected adolescent brain development.

He believed New Zealand’s long-running anti-smoking campaign, focusing on how smoking damages the lungs, had influenced teens’ perception of all forms of smoking. “Young people are transferring the view that smoking is bad for you to anything they smoke, whether it’s pot or tobacco.” European drug experts have also made the link. Britain’s The Guardian reported last month that smoking bans meant it had become less socially acceptable to smoke cigarettes, and marijuana joints, in public.