Parents are decreasing the frequency in which they are smoking cigarettes with a child in the home; however, the percentage of parents who use marijuana in the home has increased for both cigarette smokers and nonsmokers between 2002 and 2015.
“As tobacco use declines, two potentially relevant secondhand smoke-exposure trends are emerging,” Renee D. Goodwin, PhD, MPH, from the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and the Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health at the City University of New York, and the department of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and colleagues wrote. “First, marijuana use in the overall U.S. population is increasing. Second, this increase — especially in daily marijuana use — appears concentrated among cigarette smokers relative to nonsmokers.”
“Thus, despite declining secondhand smoke-exposure rates, the degree to which these declines are occurring among children living with cigarette-smoking parents remains unclear given the disproportionately high prevalence of marijuana use among cigarette smokers in general,” the researchers continued.
To observe the rate in which American parents are using marijuana while children are in the home, including changes in parental marijuana use and daily use of the drug by parents who are and are not cigarette smokers while children are present, the researchers assessed data collected from an annual, nationally representative, cross-sectional study within the United States. Information was collected between 2002 and 2015. With this information, Goodwin and colleagues also examined the relationship of these trends by demographic characteristics and over time.
Although parents are decreasing the amount of cigarettes they smoke in the home when a child is present, the number of parents using marijuana in the home when a child is present increased.
Of the 173,082 parents aged 18 years and older included in the study, 4.9% reported use of marijuana with children in the home in 2002. This percentage increased to 6.8% by 2015. A decrease in cigarette smoking with children in the home was also observed, with rates dropping from 27.6% to 20.2% during the study period.
Furthermore, overall marijuana use increased during the study period for both parents who smoked cigarettes (11% to 17.4%) and those who did not smoke cigarettes (2.4% to 4%) between 2002 and 2015 (P < .0001). Based on these rates, Goodwin and colleagues observed that those who smoked cigarettes were approximately four times more likely to also use marijuana (17.4% vs. 4%; adjusted OR = 3.88 [95% CI, 4.16-4.75]). Parents who smoked cigarettes were also more likely to use marijuana daily (4.6% vs. 0.8%; aOR = 3.7 [95% CI, 2.46-5.55]).
Despite these increases, the researchers observed an overall decrease in the number of parents who smoked cigarettes or marijuana, or both, with the percentage dropping from 29.7% to 23.5% between 2002 and 2015.
“Unlike cigarettes, it remains illegal in most places to smoke marijuana outdoors and in a range of public areas,” Goodwin and colleagues wrote. “Therefore, there is reason to believe that marijuana use is even more likely to occur in the home than cigarette smoking given their differences in legal status.”
“In addition, although we did not have information about the methods of marijuana use among parents, which would affect the level of possible secondhand smoke exposure, recent evidence indicates the vast majority of marijuana use occurs via smoking, whereas edible forms account for less than 10% of use among U.S. adults,” the researchers added. “Future researchers need to obtain specific estimates of the degree to which level of exposure is changing among children in the home.” – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.