Background: According to the gateway hypothesis, tobacco use is a gateway of cannabis use. However, there is increasing evidence that cannabis use also predicts the progression of tobacco use (reverse gateway hypothesis). Unfortunately, the importance of cannabis use compared to other predictors of tobacco use is less clear. The aim of this study was to examine which variables, in addition to cannabis use, best predict the onset of daily cigarette smoking in young men.
Methods: A total of 5,590 young Swiss men (mean age = 19.4 years, SD = 1.2) provided data on their substance use, socio-demographic background, religion, health, social context, and personality at baseline and after 18 months. We modelled the predictors of progression to daily cigarette smoking using logistic regression analyses (n = 4,230).
Results: In the multivariate overall model, use of cannabis remained among the strongest predictors for the onset of daily cigarette use. Daily cigarette use was also predicted by a lifetime use of at least 50 cigarettes, occasional cigarette use, educational level, religious affiliation, parental situation, peers with psychiatric problems, and sociability.
Conclusions: Our results highlight the relevance of cannabis use compared to other potential predictors of the progression of tobacco use and thereby support the reverse gateway hypothesis.