Marijuana usage outpaces cigarette smokers in Olmsted County | Minnesota

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Marijuana smokers are now outpacing cigarette smokers in the U.S. and it’s a trend Olmsted County is seeing as well.

Olmsted County Public Health says in 2019 a Community Health Needs Assessment showed 4% of community members reported smoking cigarettes compared to 7% who reported smoking marijuana.

Those numbers seem comparable to a new Gallup poll showing nationally only 11% of Americans say they smoke cigarettes. That’s down from 45% in the 1950’s.

When it comes to marijuana use it’s rising with 16% of Americans admitting to smoking marijuana and 48% saying they’ve tried it.

It’s up significantly from only 4% in a 1969 survey.

Locally health services specialist Pa Houa Moua says staff have been working on tobacco control and reducing usage for 20 years which includes three main ordinances. The first started back in 2001.

Moua explained, “This was our smoke free restaurant ordinance and we were actually the first county in Minnesota to implement this. Then in 2007, so five years later, we adopted our Olmsted County Smoke Free Workplace and we were the second county in the state to do this. Most recently in 2019, it actually passed in 2021, raising the minimum purchase age to 21 from 18.”

KIMT News 3 asked if there are will likely be similar ordinances or campaigns surrounding marijuana usage as it continues to rise.

Health services specialist Taylor Gray said, “We are in conversations and are looking at what more we can do around that. We do know that substance use is a priority for the county to address so we’ll continue those conversations while working collaboratively with our community.”

While marijuana usage is increasing alcohol is still the most popular substance; 67% of Americans in the most recent poll say they drink which is consistent from a 1939 report which showed 63% of Americans reported they drank.

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