Marijuana, Suddenly Less Controversial Than Tobacco

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 22 2013 6:23 PM

Marijuana, Suddenly Less Controversial Than Tobacco

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Meanwhile, there's no such thing as a Seattle Tobaccofest.

Photo by Ron Wurzer/Getty Images

For the first time ever, Gallup finds a solid majority of Americans—a 58–39 margin of 'em—in favor of legalizing marijuana. The chart is a marvel, recording the many years when hippie-skeptical Americans were solidly against such a thing. But it's best read side by side with this Mellman Group poll on tobacco legislation.

  • By a 76 to 14 percent margin, voters back the 2009 law giving the FDA authority over tobacco products, which included restrictions on sales and marketing to children.
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  • By a twenty percentage point margin (54-34) voters think the FDA should extend its authority to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, pipe tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.  

The 2009 law was one of the Obama administration's first successes, largely forgotten now. Maybe I'm comparing apples and oranges—surely, the Americans who suddenly want legal marijuana expect it to be regulated—but as pot's lost its taboo, tobacco's steadily gained one. 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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