According to a new article in the journal Marketing Science, marijuana is competition for alcohol rather than tobacco.

A team of scientists led by Pengyuan Wang of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia designed a study that tests whether internet browsing habits changed in response to marijuana legalization legislation.

The study looked to see if pro-marijuana legislation produced any spikes, or reductions, in alcohol and tobacco-related web traffic.

Partering with a leading U.S.-based web portal, the researchers looked to obtain large-scale data of online searches, advertising click-through rates, and advertising revenues from early 2014 to mid-2017. The data amounted to no less than 28 million searches and 120 million ad impressions pertaining to the cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol industries.

The researchers focused their analysis on states that had legalized recreational marijuana between 2014 and 2017. Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon met the criteria.

The authors conclude, “Historically, both alcohol and tobacco companies have been actively sponsoring/supporting campaigns against recreational cannabis legalization because they are strongly concerned that legal marijuana may pose threats to them. However, our results suggest that tobacco companies may need to re-examine their presumption and that anti-cannabis legalization is not in their best interest.”

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