The relationship between subjective experiences during first use of tobacco and cannabis and the effect of the substance experienced first

Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jan;16(1):84-92. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt116. Epub 2013 Aug 8.


Introduction: We examined the positive and negative subjective feelings associated with initial tobacco and cannabis use as well as the role of these experiences in regular use. Additionally, we investigated the effect of the first substance experienced on initial subjective experiences and later regular use.

Methods: Baseline data from a representative sample of young Swiss men were obtained from an ongoing Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors, which includes 2,321 lifetime tobacco and cannabis users. We assessed the age of first tobacco and cannabis use along with the subjective experiences associated with initial use. Additionally, subjective experiences related to regular use of both substances were analyzed.

Results: The initial subjective experiences were divided into positive and negative for each substance, and we found that the feelings associated with first use of tobacco and cannabis were similar. Moreover, the participants who used cannabis before tobacco reported fewer negative experiences associated with first tobacco use, whereas the participants who initially used tobacco reported more negative experiences related to first cannabis use. Also, we identified that regular use was encouraged by positive experiences and that negative experiences were more adverse for regular use of cannabis compared with tobacco.

Conclusions: Taken together, these results indicate that similar subjective experiences were associated with the first use of tobacco and cannabis. Also, the use of cannabis before tobacco, which occurred in only a minority of users, had the potential to enhance the effects of initial tobacco use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects
  • Marijuana Smoking / physiopathology
  • Marijuana Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / physiopathology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / physiopathology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology
  • Young Adult