Gallup polls Americans on alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use

     Wine, whiskey, and beer at The Twisted Tail in Philadelhphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Wine, whiskey, and beer at The Twisted Tail in Philadelhphia. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller sits down for his weekly conversation with Gallup’s Frank Newport to talk about trends in U.S. opinion.

    Summer is a good time to focus on consumption habits. This week, Gallup looks at the reported use of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana among Americans.

    Of those polled, 65 percent of Americans drink alcoholic beverages, while the rest describe themselves as total abstainers. This is a pretty constant figure through the decades, ranging from the mid-50 percent to an all-time high of 71 percent in the 1970s.

    The average American who drinks says he or she consumes 3.9 drinks a week. Only 3 percent admit to having more than 20 drinks a week.

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    Gallup’s “beverage of choice” trend shows that beer is still king at 43 percent; wine at 32 percent; and  liquor at 20 percent.

    One out of four drinkers say that they sometimes drink more than they should, which is up a little this year. A third of all Americans say that drinking has ever been a cause of trouble in their family. In 1947 that was 15 percent. This could reflect in part more of a willingness to admit troubles than in the past.

    In our annual update, 19 percent say they are smokers — tied for the lowest in our history, and down from the all-time high of 45 percent in 1954. The average current smoker has tried to quit 4 times.

    Most smokers (and everyone else) agrees that smoking is harmful to one’s health. While 57 percent say that smoking should be made totally illegal in public places, only 16 percent say it should be banned altogether, a la Prohibition.

    Finally, 43 percent of Americans admit that they have ever smoked marijuana; 13 percent say they currently smoke marijuana — up from 7 percent just three years ago.

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