Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is not a harmless substance and is not a safe alternative to tobacco.
Though it may be tempting to use marijuana as an aid to help you while you are quitting, it has been shown that cannabis use can actually make it more difficult for you to stop smoking (as if you need that!).1
Straight up facts about pot:
Compared with smoking one tobacco cigarette, smoking one marijuana joint puts 5 times more carbon monoxide in your bloodstream, you inhale 3 times more tar and 1/3 more of that tar will remain in your respiratory tract. 2 Knowing that, it is understandable why regular users of marijuana often experience the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers including increased coughing, phlegm production, chest illnesses and lung infections (Ugh!). 3 In fact, smoking one joint is equivalent to smoking 2.5-5 cigarettes in terms of adverse affects on lung function and airflow obstruction. 4
Marijuana smoke also contains 50-70% more carcinogenic compounds compared to tobacco smoke, so someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day! 5, 6 On top of that, when you smoke a joint, there is often no filter (yuck!), the joint is usually smoked all the way to the end (don’t want to waste any!), and the smoke is usually a higher temperature. Pot smokers also often inhale more deeply and hold their breath longer than tobacco users (obviously) putting users at an increased risk for various cancers including those of the respiratory tract and lungs. 3, 4
Bet you didn’t know…
Long-term use of marijuana can lead to addiction for some people. 5 It’s true! Outcomes of this addiction include cravings and withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, muscle pain, chills and sleep disturbance (who needs that).7, 8
Don’t trade one addiction for another.
Want help finding healthy alternatives when quitting smoking?
Talk to your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist or visit the Leave The Pack Behind Team on our campus.
1 Ford, D.E.; Vu, H.T.; and Anthony, J.C. Marijuana use and cessation of tobacco smoking in adults from a community sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 67:243-248, 2002
2 Wu, T., Tashkin, D. P., Djahed, B., & Rose, J. E. (1988). Pulmonary hazards of smoking marijuana as compared with tobacco. The New England Journal of Medicine, 318(6), 347(5)-352
3 Tashkin, D.P. Pulmonary complications of smoked substance abuse. West J Med 152:525-530, 1990
4 Aldington, S., Williams, M., Nowitz, M., Weatherall, M., Pritchard, A., McNaughton, A., Robinson, G., & Beasley, R. (2007). Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms. Thorax, 62, 1058-1063
5 National Institute of Drug Abuse (2005). Research Report Series: Marijuana Abuse
6 National Institute on Drug Abuse, accessed on October 30, 2008 from www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/marijuana.html
7 Budney, A.J.; Moore, B.A.; Vandrey, R.G.; and Hughes, J.R. The time course and significance of cannabis withdrawal. J Abnorm Psychol 112(3):393-402, 2003
8 Iversen, L. (2005). Long-term effects of exposure to cannabis. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 5(1), 69-72