▶ Watch Video: Many are reluctant to discuss pot use despite legalization

For the first time on record, regular cannabis usage has surpassed cigarette use in the U.S., according to a new Gallup poll. Marijuana use has increased dramatically over the past half-century and is currently the highest Gallup has ever recorded. 

Of the American adults who participated in the poll, around 16% said they currently smoke marijuana, while nearly half said they have tried it at some point in their lifetime. When the question was first asked in 1969, only 4% of respondents said they had tried it.

That same year, 40% of respondents said they had smoked cigarettes in the same week. But during the past decades, cigarette use has decreased among Americans. 

In the poll conducted last month, only 11% of respondents reported being smokers —the lowest recorded since Gallup began collecting data in 1944. That’s a significant decrease from even the previous year, when 16% of respondents reported smoking cigarettes in the past week. In the 1950s, 45% of adults polled said they smoked cigarettes. [reworked this just a bit]

In 2019, 83% of respondents believed smoking was “very harmful” to adults who smoke, and another 14% said it is “somewhat harmful.” In 2013, more than nine in 10 respondents said smoking caused cancer and 91% of smokers polled in 2015 said they wish they had never started smoking. 

“Smoking cigarettes is clearly on the decline and is most likely to become even more of a rarity in the years ahead,” Gallup senior scientist Dr. Frank Newport said. “This reflects both public awareness of its negative effects and continuing government efforts at all levels to curtail its use.”

Meanwhile, Americans’ views on the impact of marijuana are less negative — 62% of adults aged 18-34 and 53% of those aged 35-54 said that marijuana has positive effects on those who use it, according to another Gallup poll conducted in July. And 49% of respondents said marijuana has a positive effect on society.

Young Americans are smoking cannabis at the highest rate, with nearly a third of respondents under the age of 35 saying they smoke marijuana. But of that age group, only 8% are smoking cigarettes at least once a week.

Although marijuana for recreational use is still illegal in over half of U.S. states, it is now legal in some form in 38 states, which may be a contributing factor to its rise in popularity. And the number of cannabis consumers will likely continue to rise as more states legalize the drug, an idea supported by 68% of U.S. adults, according to Gallup —  a record high.

“It should be noted, some authorities argue that marijuana is quite dangerous, particularly for young adults, and it is possible that attitudes toward its use could change if focus on the downsides of marijuana increases in the years ahead,” Newport said.

Alcohol continues to be by far the most used substance, with about 45% of respondents reporting they had a drink within the past week. This trend has “remained relatively constant over the years,” according to Gallup.