The rising trend of blunt use in youth, particularly in vulnerable racial minorities and LGBT youth, is a growing concern.
The legalization and easy access to cannabis in the United States have resulted in significant negative impacts on youth, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on the secondary analysis of the Population and Tobacco Health (PATH) survey. The co-use of tobacco and marijuana, more commonly known as blunt use, has seen a huge rise in its consumption, especially among LGBT youth. The study, which involved 7518 individuals, investigated the impact of sexual minority status on the recent use of blunts among a sizable number of American youth while simultaneously evaluating the demographic features.
The report highlighted that almost 10% of the youth, predominantly girls aged 14–17 years, reported using blunts over the last year. There was a significant association with age, ethnicity, and LGBT+ status, with one in five LGBT+ youth reporting past-year blunt use.
The analysis further revealed that African Americans, multiracial individuals, increasing age, and LGBT+ status were the predisposing factors. Asian youth and young adults reportedly had lesser consumption.
The Driving Factor for Blunt Use
The continued popularity of blunt use on social media websites, particularly among younger adults, and the fact that it is seen as less harmful than other consumable tobacco products are the major driving factors behind this spike in usage, especially in the adolescent age during which most drug initiation occurs. Older data reveals that the blunt culture was cultivated around Black males, who were considered a target audience by big tobacco companies seeking to promote positive aspects of tobacco use. Plus, there is a history of marketing harmful cigar products to minorities and youth.
LGBT+ Youth Were Found More Likely to Use Blunts
Adolescents who self-identified as LGBT+ exhibited a higher likelihood of reporting the usage of blunts within the previous year than their non-LGBT+ counterparts. In particular, the prevalence of past-year blunt use was found to be 2.17 times higher among LGBT+ youth. The main reason for the high engagement of LGBT+ youth in blunt use is due to their surrounding environment. These individuals reportedly have high levels of loneliness and very low levels of social support, which might be the significant cause of their using blunts to engage in social bonding.
Additionally, the report describes the concept of the minority stress theory, which says that individuals who feel excluded from the general population may experience a build-up of stress, potentially leading to engaging in behaviors such as smoking to alleviate symptoms.
Yockey, R. A., & Barnett, T. E. (2023). Past-Year Blunt Smoking among Youth: Differences by LGBT and Non-LGBT Identity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(7), 5304. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20075304