Smoking Marijuana Versus Tobacco
It’s often considered that smoking equals smoking and that the hazards of smoking marijuana are the same as those of smoking tobacco. However, this does not appear to be the case. Furthermore, cannabis vaporizers may minimize the danger of marijuana use even further.
Tobacco usage is universally acknowledged as the world’s most significant preventable cause of death. Smokers live ten years longer than nonsmokers, and tobacco use causes lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Marijuana is also (typically) smoked. Therefore it seems reasonable to presume that the risks of smoking marijuana are comparable to those of tobacco smoking. The debate over marijuana vs. tobacco smoke appears to be moot because smoking in any form is harmful. However, evidence suggests that, while marijuana use is still harmful, it is less so than cigarette use. People who use marijuana medicinally or recreationally (where permitted by law) do not have to smoke it, which is the most significant advantage over tobacco.
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Tobacco and marijuana smoke have a lot in common, but they also have some differences.
Tobacco smoke contains about 7,000 compounds, with around 70 of them being harmful. This is one of the main reasons smoking is so detrimental to your health: breathing hazardous and cancer-causing substances daily eventually takes its toll.
When it comes to marijuana smoke vs. tobacco smoke, the evidence suggests that there are many parallels and some distinctions. Both marijuana and tobacco smoke include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. However, the quantities in marijuana smoke are lower in “mainstream” smoke (which users inhale and exhale) and greater in “sidestream” smoke (which users inhale and exhale) (which rises from the tip of the marijuana cigarette). Other compounds show a similar pattern: some are higher in marijuana smoke, while others are higher in cigarette smoke. Marijuana smoke has at least 50 of the carcinogens seen in tobacco smoke.
Burning plant matter, regardless of whatever plant it is, releases a large number of hazardous compounds. Although there are significant variances between marijuana and tobacco smoke, they are highly similar on the whole.
Tobacco Use and Its Consequences
Tobacco smoking, as most people are aware, presents several significant dangers. Lung cancer, a variety of other malignancies, heart disease, COPD, strokes, and various other illnesses are among them. Smoking kills over 480,000 individuals in the United States each year, making it the country’s top preventable cause of death.
The Perils of Marijuana Smoking
When it comes to marijuana vs. tobacco smoke, comparing the risks of smoking to marijuana puts the chemical makeup of the smoke into perspective.
Overall, the dangers of smoking marijuana are less well-known than those of smoking tobacco, but they are nevertheless prevalent. Many researchers, for example, have looked at the possibility that marijuana causes cancer, but the results have been equivocal. In 2006, a comprehensive evaluation of the research on marijuana and lung cancer discovered that the drug generated alterations in the lungs that could indicate cancer-causing potential but no statistically significant link. Other research, on the other hand, has shown a relationship.
Other types of cancer have comparable evidence: the results are mixed, but marijuana smoking is likely to pose some risk. Many difficulties make the subject difficult to answer – for example, many marijuana smokers mix it with tobacco when they smoke – and it’s also tough to research because marijuana is outlawed in most parts of the world.
Other situations and issues are a bit clearer, but there is still a lot of uncertainty. Marijuana smoking, for example, is harmful to the lungs in the same way that tobacco smoking is. Marijuana users are more likely to cough, wheeze, develop airway inflammation, and cough up phlegm, although the effects on overall
lung function has yet to be proven.
Why Is There So Much Uncertainty About Marijuana’s Risks?
Because of several elements pertinent to marijuana use, comparing marijuana smoke to tobacco smoke is more challenging. To begin with, as previously said, many marijuana smokers combine marijuana with tobacco, while others do not. Marijuana smokers frequently keep the smoke in their lungs, resulting in the deposit of additional toxic substances. Even heavy marijuana smokers, on the other hand, do not inhale as much smoke as cigarette smokers, resulting in lower daily exposure. Finally, marijuana users recruited for research may not be truthful about how much they consume.
Keeping Safe: Quitting or Using Marijuana in a Different Way
While the dangers of smoking marijuana aren’t as well understood as those of smoking tobacco, they exist. The best method to reduce these dangers (including the risk of schizophrenia linked to THC) is to quit smoking marijuana, but this may not be possible if you’re using it for medical reasons.
Alternative means of marijuana consumption, thankfully, are expected to lessen the risks to users. Although you must be careful to get the appropriate dose, boiling marijuana into edibles is the safest way to consume it because it eliminates any hazards to your lungs. Vaporizers for marijuana, on the other hand, prohibit (or limit) the generation of combustion products, making them potentially safer than smoking.
Whatever method you choose, quitting smoking marijuana and tobacco is critical to protecting your health and reducing your risk of developing problems.
Even though the two substances include many of the same components, a large-scale national study reveals that low to moderate marijuana usage is less damaging to users’ lungs than tobacco use.
Cigarette smoking can result in severe lung damage, such as respiratory discomfort, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, it causes 443,000 deaths each year, or approximately one out of five deaths. The Centers for Disease Control(CDC) is a U.S. government agency. Until now, there has been very little data on the long-term effects of marijuana usage on the pulmonary system.
Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at UCSF, said, “We discovered exactly what we predicted we would find regarding tobacco smoking: a consistent decline of lung function with increasing exposure.” “However, we were taken aback by the fact that we discovered such a different pattern of correlation with marijuana exposure.”
Researchers looked at the link between current and lifetime marijuana use and lung function in today’s publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). From 1985 through 2006, the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study gathered medical information from 5,115 men and women in four U.S. cities.
They measured airflow rate, how quickly a person can blow out air, lung volume, or how much air a person can hold, usually around six litres for an adult male. A spirometer, popular medical equipment that monitors airflow when breathing in and out, was used to assess lung function.
“Essentially, the more tobacco you use, the more loss you have with both the indicators, air flow rate and lung volume,” said Stefan Kertesz, MD, MSc, associate professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and the Birmingham VA Medical Center, and the paper’s last author. “There’s a straight connection between how much you use and how much you lose.”
The same could not be said for marijuana consumption. When exposed to marijuana at a specific level, the airflow rate rose rather than reduced.
“The amount of each substance that is commonly smoked is a key aspect that helps explain the variation in effects from these two substances,” Pletcher added. “Tobacco users typically smoke ten to twenty cigarettes per day, with some smoking far more. Marijuana users smoke only two to three times a month on average. Therefore their exposure to marijuana is much lower than that of tobacco users.”
“And marijuana is one of those things where a lot of individuals experiment with it in their late teens and early twenties, and some people stick to quite low doses for a long time,” Kertesz noted.
Heavy Marijuana Use Could Be Harmful
Although there was some evidence that extensive marijuana use could harm the lungs, the researchers could not obtain meaningful estimates of the consequences of severe marijuana use since smokers were infrequent in the study sample.
According to the researchers, the findings can add to the expanding body of knowledge concerning the benefits of low to moderate marijuana usage in pain management, stimulating hunger, improving mood, and treating other chronic conditions.
Pletcher added, “Our findings suggest that occasional use of marijuana for these or other objectives may not be related with unfavourable pulmonary function.” “Our findings, on the other hand, do imply a rapid loss in pulmonary function with higher usage — either widespread use or frequent use over many years – and, as a result, the need for caution and moderation when it comes to marijuana use.”
Pletcher is the paper’s lead author; co-authors include Eric Vittinghoff, Ph.D., and Feng Lin, MS, both of the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Ravi Kalhan, MD, MS, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Stephen Sidney, MD, MPH, of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, Oakland; Joshua Richman, MD, Ph.D., Monika Safford, MD,
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provided funding for the study.
UCSF is a renowned institution dedicated to improving global health by conducting advanced scientific research, providing graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and exceptional patient care.
The detrimental effects of smoking cannabis, on the other hand, are well recognized and have lately been highlighted.3,4 While the active components in cannabis differ from those in tobacco, both release over 4000 compounds when smoked, which are substantially equivalent. Although cannabis cigarettes are not as popular as nicotine cigarettes, the way they are inhaled is significantly different. Compared to tobacco, cannabis smoking results in a two-thirds bigger draw volume. A one-third larger inhaled volume, a four-times longer duration holding the breath, and a five-fold increase in carboxyhemoglobin concentrations. As a result, the byproducts of cannabis combustion are preserved to a considerably greater extent. What are the chances of this harming one’s health?
We already know that regular cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of mental illnesses, notably schizophrenia and depression4. Still, it’s also worth looking at its potential to cause other diseases, particularly those affecting the heart and lungs.
Because cannabis use is a relatively new phenomenon and its potency is fluctuating, there is currently a shortage of epidemiological data of cardiac injury from cannabis. In the United Kingdom, the principal active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has climbed from roughly 0.5 percent 20 years ago to approaching 5 percent now. At the same time, “Nederweed” (the kind smoked in the Netherlands) has a tetrahydrocannabinol content of 10-11 percent. Simultaneously, little research has been done to see if any changes in tar content occur. Case-control studies are difficult to conduct since cannabis cigarettes do not come in regular sizes, making it challenging to establish dose-response relationships.
Furthermore, the majority of cannabis users also smoke tobacco, making it impossible to separate specific dangers. There will be a latent period between smoking initiation and the development of lung damage, cardiovascular disease, or malignant change, just as there will be with tobacco.
Tobacco smoking causes 120 000 premature deaths in the United Kingdom each year, including 46 000 deaths from cancer, 34 000 deaths from chronic respiratory diseases, and 40 000 deaths from heart and circulatory diseases. Smoked cannabis, on the other hand, appears to have similar consequences to tobacco, with many of them manifesting at a younger age.
Cannabis smoking causes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung problems. Cannabis smoking is also linked to bullous lung disease in children and adolescents. Inflammatory lung changes, chronic cough, and chest infections are similar to those of cigarette smokers, but they may be more common in younger people.7–9 Premalignant changes in the pulmonary epithelium have been observed, and cannabis smokers have been reported to have lung, tongue, and other cancers.
Tetrahydrocannabinol has cardiovascular effects, and smoking cannabis has been linked to sudden deaths. Myocardial infarction is 4.2 times more likely to occur within an hour after smoking cannabis. Despite these alarming statistics, there is currently no evidence that smoking cannabis contributes to the progression of coronary artery disease in the same way that smoking cigarettes does. More research into cannabis’ cardiovascular and pulmonary effects is required.
It may be claimed that extrapolating potential large-scale consequences from a small number of individual studies is scaremongering. For instance, assuming equal effect, if cigarettes cause an annual excess of 120 000 deaths among 13 million smokers, the comparable figure for deaths among 3.2 million cannabis smokers would be 30 000.
Even if the number of deaths caused by cannabis was a quarter of that, smoking cannabis would still be a significant public health risk. These signs, however, cannot be ignored when the expected mental health burden is coupled to the risk of morbidity and premature death from cardiac disease.
According to a recent comment, the two main strategies in the fight against tobacco are prevention and cessation.12 At the moment, there is no fight against cannabis and no clear public health message.
NEW YORK — As more states legalize marijuana, some government officials, experts, and others are concerned about what this could mean for one of the country’s most significant public health achievements: the reduction in cigarette smoking.
Though there are significant variances in the conclusions of health research on tobacco and marijuana, the juxtaposition may seem strange to some after generations of Americans have been told that smoking is harmful to their health.
At a recent municipal hearing about the state’s potential legalization of so-called recreational marijuana usage, a New York City councilman, Republican Peter Koo, asked, “Why do you want to legalize marijuana?”
Marijuana supporters argue that joints and tobacco cigarettes are not comparable. According to a comprehensive federal review of marijuana studies, the hazards of smoking weed to one’s lungs are “quite minimal” and “much lower than those of smoking tobacco,” the leading cause of premature death in the United States.
Unlike cigarettes, marijuana has been shown to have health benefits, such as reducing chronic pain. Marijuana can also be utilized without being smoked. The majority of states currently have medicinal marijuana programs, while ten states and the District of Columbia have allowed recreational marijuana use.
Mason Tvert, a pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project spokesman, said, “They’re separate goods, and they deserve to be treated differently.”
Simultaneously, research has revealed a link between marijuana and cigarette usage. While smoking cannabis is less harmful to one’s lungs than smoking tobacco, it isn’t without drawbacks.
Given the uncertainty regarding the long-term effects of the smoking alternative, several health professionals and anti-smoking campaigners are concerned about introducing legal marijuana into the booming realm of vaping.