Research is showing that when recreational cannabis was legalized, consumers showed less interest in alcohol, but more interest in tobacco.
The study shows online searches for alcohol saw a drop of nearly 11%, but tobacco products were searched online nearly 8% more often.
“It appears the alcohol industry has valid reason to be concerned about legal cannabis and may need creative strategies to avoid market decline,” says Pengyuan Wang, an assistant professor in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.
Alcohol and tobacco companies have been opponents of cannabis legalization legislation, but Wang suggests, “Tobacco companies may need to re-examine their presumption, and that anti-cannabis legalization is not in their best interest.”
The research by Wang and co-author Guiyang Xiong of Syracuse University was published in INFORMS journal Marketing Science. It looked at anonymous data from 28 million online searches and 120 million ad impressions from a leading US-based web portal from January 2014 to April 2017.
The study also found the legalization of recreational cannabis increases online searches by adults by 17%. There is actually a decrease in searches done by those age 19 years and younger after the substance is legalized.
“Contrary to widely held public concern after recreational cannabis is legalized, teenagers appear to lose interest, rather than gain interest,” added Wang. “Policymakers only concerned with an uptick in teen users, may want to rethink their stance.”