Harms of Marijuana and Cigarette Smoke Compared

A new study suggests marijuana smoke isn’t as dangerous as tobacco smoke, making experts worry young people will think lighting up is safe.

“Legalize marijuana” groups will likely see new research that suggests marijuana smoke does not damage lungs in the same way tobacco smoke does as a victory for their cause. The problem is, the new study doesn’t in any way prove that smoking pot regularly is safe, just that the smoke it generates may not damage lungs in the same way cigarette smoking does. Marijuana use does still impair response times and can be particularly dangerous to teens and college students whose brains haven’t finished growing.

While marijuana contains many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke, researchers at UC San Francisco found that smoking marijuana on an occasional basis does not appear to significantly damage the lungs. The study, reported by the Los Angeles Times and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 5,115 men and women in four US cities regarding their current and lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke and their lung function.

The study showed that lung function declined with increased exposure to tobacco smoke, but the same pattern was not seen with marijuana smoke. There was no evidence of lung function damage with smoking one joint a day for seven years, however, after 10 years, there was some decline in lung function as measured by the speed at which a person can blow out air.

Harms of Marijuana and Cigarette Smoke Compared

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