For millennials, cigarettes go better with booze than they do with weed.
That’s the conclusion of a new UC San Francisco study showing tobacco accompanied by alcohol gives cigarette smokers a greater perceived reward than when they smoke cigarettes while using marijuana.
The article, published Tuesday online in the journal Addiction Research & Theory, is the first to document the trend, according to its authors.
“What we’ve learned may have important implications for understanding differences in co-use of cigarettes with alcohol versus marijuana,” co-first author Noah R. Gubner said in statement.
The study said research has shown that among young adults, cigarette smoking is strongly connected with alcohol and marijuana use – and smoking is particularly common among heavy drinkers or binge drinkers. Other studies have also shown that the combined pharmacological effects of cigarettes and alcohol can lead to a heightened sense of reward for users.
Rose Hernandez knows that reward. The 26-year-old San Jose resident, who was smoking a Camel cigarette outside the downtown eatery where she works on Monday, said she enjoys both smoking cigarettes when she’s drinking beer, and smoking cigarettes after she’s finished inhaling marijuana.
But Hernandez said she prefers the combination of drinking and smoking because the mixture of the two “lightens my head.”
The UCSF study used self-reported data by 500 U.S. adults, ages 18 to 25, who currently smoke, and have recently used alcohol or marijuana, or both. The study recruited participants between October 2014 and August 2015 through a paid advertising campaign on Facebook.
The researchers examined the extent of cigarette smoking under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, along with the differences in perceived pleasure. They found that individuals smoked more than 40 percent of their cigarettes under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.
“Since the main route of administration for marijuana is smoking, some aspects of marijuana use (such as the smoke, lighting of a joint, the throat feeling when inhaling smoke) may serve as cues that increase urges to smoke cigarettes,” the report said.
In the study, both alcohol and marijuana users reported increased pleasure from smoking cigarettes when drinking alcohol – and this pleasure was not heightened by binge drinking. By contrast, there was on average no change in perceived pleasure from smoking cigarettes when using marijuana.