It is estimated that 16.8% of Americans (40 million people!) smoke cigarettes.
Currently, it is estimated that 13% of American adults consume cannabis.
With so many people consuming cannabis and/or tobacco in America, the question often comes up, which is worse?
Tobacco smoke versus cannabis smoke
Tobacco smoke and cannabis smoke both contain carcinogens.
However, the nicotine in the tobacco smoke increases the cancer-promoting effects of the smoke.
According to the Center for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
On the flip side, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a cannabinoid found in cannabis, has the opposite effect. THC actually decreases the cancer-promoting effects of smoke.
And, choosing smoke-less forms of cannabis such as vaporizing and oral ingestion of consumables can help mitigate any harm associated with smoke inhalation!
What do studies say about cannabis versus tobacco?
A study from 2012 looked specifically at the effects of cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke on consumers’ lungs.
The study, conducted by UCSF and University of Alabama at Birmingham, involved more than 5,000 adults and 20 years worth of data.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers determined that occasional and low cumulative cannabis use was not associated with adverse effects on pulmonary function.
The same could not be said for tobacco smoke. “We found exactly what we thought we would find in relation to tobacco exposure: a consistent loss of lung function with increasing exposure,” said the paper’s lead author, Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, associate professor in the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at UCSF.
Another study, the results of which were released in 2013, found that ‘Adults who inhale cannabis report significantly better health outcomes than do those who smoke tobacco or a combination of both substances.’
Another study from 2009 compared health care costs of cigarette smokers and cannabis smokers. The study found that health care costs for tobacco smokers was 40 times higher than that of cannabis-only smokers.
Two different products, two different industry approaches
The tobacco industry and the emerging cannabis industry are very different.
Cannabis opponents will try hard to paint cannabis to be the ‘next big tobacco’ but that fear mongering is unfounded.
The truth is, cannabis has actually been found to help cigarette smokers reduce their harmful habit.
The tobacco industry has spent decades working on ways to make their products more addictive for consumers.
Responsible cannabis industry members on the other hand research and develop products built on the principle of increasing wellness.
Cannabis has proven wellness benefits. Tobacco is proven to be toxic.
No one has ever died from cannabis toxicity. Not once in the history of humanity.
The bottom line is – tobacco smoke is much more harmful than cannabis smoke.