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Marijuana vs Tobacco

Understanding the Difference: Marijuana vs. Tobacco

Smoking tobacco, including cigarettes and cigars, is recognized as a top cause of preventable death in the world. On average, smokers die up to 10 years sooner than non-smokers, and conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, and lung cancer are all directly linked to smoking tobacco.

Because marijuana is smoked, some believe the dangers and risks it presents to their health are equal. However, even though research has shown smoking marijuana is risky, it is considered far less dangerous than smoking tobacco. One of the most significant advantages in the marijuana versus tobacco debate is that people using marijuana recreationally or medicinally don’t have to smoke it. Today, the popularity of edibles is growing, which some believe will eventually edge out the question of marijuana or tobacco altogether.

For now, there are still questions and concerns surrounding both plant-based substances. Learn more about this ongoing battle between marijuana and tobacco here and find out which one, if either, is a better option.

Some Similarities and Some Differences

Tobacco smoke is known to contain more than 7,000 chemicals, and 70 of these are considered carcinogenic. This is one of the reasons smoking is considered so dangerous. Each time someone lights up, they are inhaling toxic, cancer-causing chemicals. Eventually, it is going to impact a person’s health, whether they have one cigarette or 20.

For the discussion of marijuana smoke versus tobacco smoke, there is evidence of several similarities between these; however, there are also differences. For example, both tobacco and marijuana smoke contain a toxic substance called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). With marijuana, the levels of this toxin are lower in the “mainstream” smoke, which is the smoke inhaled and exhaled by the user. However, the levels are higher in the “sidestream” smoke, which comes from the marijuana cigarette’s tip, where it is lit. The effect of the other chemicals is similar. There are some that are higher in marijuana smoke, while others are higher in cigarette smoke. Approximately 50 of the carcinogens found in tobacco smoke are also found in marijuana smoke, so it’s important to remember marijuana smoke isn’t completely harmless.

The truth is, when plant matter is burned, a lot of harmful chemicals are produced. This is true, no matter what plant is smoked: tobacco, sativa cannabis, or indica cannabis. While there are some differences between tobacco and marijuana smoke, when looked at closely, they are in some ways also very alike.

Uncovering the Truth

There’s a widespread myth spread by “prohibitionists” that smoking one to two marijuana joints per day is equivalent to an entire pack of traditional tobacco cigarettes per day. The truth, though, according to scientific research, is that those who smoke marijuana daily show less evidence of respiratory issues or tissue damage than those who smoke a pack of cigarettes each day. Also, there’s no tangible evidence linking the use of marijuana to heart disease or other non-respiratory cancers, such as rectal, bladder, or colon cancer. The opposite is true for smoking tobacco.

For many, there are still questions. For example, why is marijuana smoking less physically harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes?

The Smoke Factor

The primary reason smoking the plants from usa marijuana seeds are considered safer than smoking tobacco is because marijuana smokers usually consume much less smoke. People who choose marijuana, on average, smoke one to two joints per day. People who smoke tobacco cigarettes tend to go through a pack or more of cigarettes per day. On average, there are 20 cigarettes per pack, which illustrates the difference in smoke consumed.

Even though this is true, the totals of smoke inhaled need to be adjusted to consider that marijuana smokers usually inhale more deeply. This exposes their lungs to more smoke per puff. Experts in the field who have studied the effects of marijuana and tobacco smoke have discovered marijuana smokers absorb between three and five times more smoke toxins than tobacco smokers per weight of the plant smoked. What this means is that a gram of marijuana is equivalent to approximately three to five grams of tobacco.

Marijuana joints usually range in size from cigar-size to the thinner sinsemilla joints, which weigh just a fraction of a gram. It’s common to find higher quality cannabis in the thinner joints. With good quality cannabis, a standard joint weighs approximately 0.4 grams, which is the size of a cigarette. An average joint is equal to 1.5 to 2.5 cigarettes when the ratio mentioned above is used. Plants from cbd marijuana seeds and high thc cannabis can be smoked as a joint or blunt, but those high cbd strains like acdc hemp and blueberry CBD are more typically vaporized. Maybe this is because they are used by medical patients who may have lung problems or other health issues.

Toxin Considerations

Another significant difference in marijuana and tobacco is tobacco’s propensity to seep more deeply into the user’s lungs. For reasons that are still unknown, the particles from marijuana smoke will likely congregate in the upper, larger air passageways of the throat and lungs while tobacco moves to the lower, smaller passageways. Based on findings in several studies, a result of this effect is that marijuana does not contribute to serious conditions like emphysema, which is a progressive and degenerative disease affecting the lower lungs, which is where tobacco smoke accumulates.

However, for smokers who combine marijuana and tobacco smoke, they may aggravate their risk for developing emphysema. Marijuana is also more likely to cause throat irritation than cigarettes.

The Active Ingredients

The active ingredients in marijuana versus tobacco is another distinguishing factor between these. With marijuana, the active ingredients include THC and other cannabinoids. Tobacco’s active ingredient is nicotine.

There is some evidence that THC and other cannabinoids have cancer-suppressive properties. However, nicotine has cancer-promoting properties. Also, other nicotine derivatives found in the smoke from a tobacco cigarette, such as NNN and NNK, are highly potent carcinogens. Nicotine is a potent and addictive vasoconstrictor. It is also a stimulant that’s known to promote heart disease and circulatory problems.

According to some studies, there are specific biochemical reasons to explain why cannabis smoke isn’t as carcinogenic as tobacco smoke. THC hinders the conversion of the PAH found in marijuana smoke into active carcinogens. It appears, according to some studies, that nicotine has the opposite effect. Also, nicotine may work to inhibit the destruction of disease cells, and cannabinoids do not.

Nicotine promotes the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors, and cannabinoids do the opposite. It’s possible that as the population of people who regularly use or consume cannabis gets older, the long-term consequences of smoking it may become more apparent and more similar to what has been observed with long-term tobacco use. However, based on current studies and understanding of how marijuana affects the body, there’s no evidence that cannabis smoke will create the carcinogenic consequences that are comparable to what occurs with tobacco smoke.

Where Does Vaping Come In?

Vaping, which involves heating a solution into vapor and then inhaling it, has been presented as a safer alternative to smoking. Some experts have stated that vaping isn’t as harmful to the lungs as smoking, but there are few studies based on the long-term health effects of this. With the limited understanding and scientific studies related to smoking, some experts are concerned about the potency of the material when vaped.

Information from the American Lung Association has highlighted their concern that vaping will eventually prove damaging to lung health, and there is concern about the surge of underage e-cigarette users.

While this is true, many in the scientific field believe that vaping can help reduce the risks associated with traditional smoking. Retail sales are usually a good reflection of peoples consumption preferences, and all throughout USA dispensaries, og cookies strain pens and rechargeable lemon kush vape sticks are literally flying off the shelves. Put simply, the official view on vaping is still unknown as information is still be revealed and discovered.

The Physical and Mental Health Risks of Cigarettes vs. Marijuana

One of the most important factors that many experts are focused on is the long term physical and mental health risks of both cigarettes and marijuana.


According to information provided by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, lung cancer isn’t the only risk associated with smoking tobacco. Several mental and physical risks go along with this addiction.

These include:

  • Reduced immunity
  • Inability to achieve a state of arousal for men
  • Reduced overall general health
  • Lung disease
  • Inability for women to get pregnant
  • Low birth weight for women who smoke while pregnant

Along with the physical effects of smoking, there is a mental impact, as well. Someone who smokes is at a higher risk of developing a mental illness and experiencing depression or anxiety. Especially if the smoked flower was grown from especially high THC seeds.  Smokers are usually nervous, agitated, and suffer extensive cravings when they don’t have cigarettes readily available. There’s also the likelihood a smoker will develop other addictions. CBD rich strains like cbd harlequin can sometimes actually help curb the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, and many chronic smokers have turned to the help of CBD vape pens to help them quit smoking.


The effects of the smoke produced by a marijuana cigarette present some level of physical risk. While this smoke can cause lung cancer, it can also cause wheezing, the production of phlegm, and acute or chronic bronchitis. Over time, it may result in immune system suppression and the increased risk of opportunistic infections for individuals who are HIV positive.

Smoking marijuana can have serious mental effects, too. It can cause impaired cognitive function and memory, delay brain development in younger individuals, and cause cases of anxiety and depression.

The Use of Marijuana for Health and Wellness

While using cannabis does have some adverse effects, the modern era shows there are also health benefits worth noting. Thanks to the many consumption methods, smoking doesn’t have to put a user’s heart or lungs at risk. It’s been proven that marijuana can work to alleviate pain and symptoms of many serious conditions like cancer, PTSD, arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis. It can reverse cases of tobacco-caused ischemia. Also, marijuana helps people with mental illness, such as gambling disorders, eating disorders, addictions, and bipolar disorder. It may even be beneficial in fighting tobacco addiction.

Since marijuana is not as addictive of a substance as tobacco, it has received attention as a potential treatment for opioid addiction, which is something tens of thousands of Americans struggle with. Like many other claims about marijuana benefits, though, more scientific research is needed to know for sure.

The Legal Upper Hand

While federal law still prohibits the use and consumption of marijuana, tobacco is legal. This is a difference that has made it challenging to grasp and understand the potential benefits of cannabis. Before the recent era, which made the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana legal in some areas, the value it offered was mostly hearsay, with limited scientific backing. In certain areas, where the use of marijuana has not been decriminalized, an individual may not have an option other than using tobacco if they smoke.

Even though lawmakers across the nation are working to have marijuana decriminalized, tobacco is available for purchase at any gas station or convenience store. Even if marijuana is considered legal where someone lives, the buyer may sacrifice some of their main civil rights when purchasing it. What’s even worse, no matter if someone chooses to smoke marijuana or tobacco, their landlord may impose more regulations than the government does.

Making Investments in Tobacco and Weed

In recent years, investments in the cannabis market have grown. Even Wall Street analysts have noticed the U.S. cannabis industry is projected to reach a minimum of $47 billion within the next ten years. Big tobacco has even noticed the appeal and draw of the cannabis market. As trends continue to change, Philip Morris, one of the biggest tobacco companies in existence today, saw a 16 percent reduction in their shares. This company has even jumped on the marijuana bandwagon, having purchased patents for cannabis plants. The investment is a clear indication of the positive possibilities related to the future of this plant.

Marijuana vs. Tobacco: A Final Word

While marijuana still isn’t legal across the nation, unlike tobacco cigarettes, the benefits outweigh those of tobacco. While each still presents specific issues and problems for the body, marijuana has pushed out the competition with the possible health benefits offered. Also, this is a trend that’s expected to continue as scientific studies and understanding of cannabis continue to grow.

While this is true, there are still studies that show if a person enjoys marijuana, they may also enjoy tobacco. If a person is trying to quit tobacco, they may feel pulled back to this activity if they begin smoking cannabis.