Nearly Half of Americans Support Cigarette Prohibition


A Zogby poll commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance finds that 45 percent of Americans favor cigarette prohibition. The details won't be available until tomorrow, but the Zogby press release says the poll "asked a sampling of 1,200 Americans if they would support federal legislation making cigarettes illegal in five to ten years." It calls the results "startling." I'm not so sure. Nowadays about one-fifth of Americans are cigarette smokers, while 14 percent or so report using illegal drugs. That's only slightly lower than the smoking prevalence rate in California, and actual use of illegal drugs is probably somewhat higher than the self-reported numbers. Given that the percentage of Americans who smoke is in the same ballpark as the percentage who use illegal drugs, maybe the startling thing is that there isn't more support for banning cigarettes. The discrepancy is probably due to policy inertia, a resistance to changing the status quo. Cigarettes seem less threatening because they're more familiar, while the companies that produce them, vilified as they are, still seem more legitimate than the corner crack dealer, simply because they're legal.