Tobacco or Marijuana?

Obviously smoking poses risks to lung-health, but which is worst for you? Tobacco or marijuana? I’ve heard people claim both sides and can’t seem to find a definitive and reliable answer anywhere. claims marijuana contains 50-70% more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco but when I checked their source I couldn’t find that figure, or any figure for that matter. Does anyone have any good studies or reliable sources they can point me to?

Current mainstream medical opinion from, a subscription website for medical professionals:

I’ve heard there’s cyanide in apple peels. Which is worse, eating apples or going to the gas chamber?

Wait, am I reading that correctly? Is that saying that the studies show that a joint a day is slightly worse for your lungs than a pack a day?

About as risky, per the study.

Here’s the PubMed abstract of the paper:

Basically, in this one fairly well constructed study, a joint a day of pot and a pack a day of tobacco seemed equivalently risky as far as the development of lung cancer was concerned.

Again, this field of study suffers from lack of good research to tease out the particulars.

So if this risk ratio is true, it suggests that 20 pack/years of tobacco (which is the generally accepted threshold for entering cancer country) seems equate to 20 joint/years for pot. (a pack year = 1 PPD/year or 2 PPD/6 months or 1/2 PPD for 2 years etc. while a joint year is a joint a day for a year or two for 6 months, etc.)

Again, the data is nowhere near as good as what we have on tobacco alone.

Never mind. Didn’t fully read the OP.

Recent studies show that mild marijuana use improves lung function (and if you don’t like the Sun, there’s a cite in there). Note that it doesn’t say anything about cancer rates.

And of course, tobacco are primarily inhaled through one form, cigarettes (plus cigars, pipes). Whereas most people don’t necessarily use joints, but pipes, bongs, etc. at home. Whether it’s true, “they” say those forms are cleaner because the smoke is captured.

When considering which is worse, you may want to take into account how the products are typically used. Very few marijuana smokers have the equivalent of a pack-a-day habit.

The biggest outlier there being vaporizers, which are increasingly popular. I’d wager a LARGE minority if not an outright majority of frequent pot smokers over the age of, say, 25 use vaporizers.

I don’t know about the peel, but there is definitely cyanide in the apple seed, as well as pear seeds and the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries, probably all the prunuses, except that it has been bred out of the almond (an occasional throwback excepted–that gets you a bitter almond). On the other hand cyanide gets eliminated rather quickly. I have read that eating a cup of apple seeds would kill you, but the seeds of one apple are harmless. I assume that you have to chew the seed to release the poison since the “purpose” of the seed is to go through you intact and be eliminated somewhere else.

Now getting back to the OP, I think most pot, if smoked, is smoked by taking some tobacco out of a cigarette and replacing it by the pot. So that would be a very confounding problem. If you don’t smoke it (someone I knew made “hash” brownies) then there is no reason it would contribute to lung cancer, not to say that it might not have other serious effects. In fact, lung cancer might not be the worst effect of smoking; it might be heart disease. Whether caused by the nicotine, by the monoxide released during smoking or something else, I know not.

I was going to say, “Both!,” but then I read the OP. Interesting.

I really don’t think many people use vaporizers – all of my friends are over twenty-five and everyone I know IRL, basically, smokes weed at least occasionally. I’ve been trying to get some older friends (over fifty) who use many times daily to get into vaporizers, but old habits die hard, I guess.

Surprising results. One lousy joint, even if shared among at least one other person, is really that bad for you. Besides. Coughing actually gets you higher.

Most of my friends are over 35, most of them use pot, and none of them use a vaporizer.

Untrue. I’ve heard that mixing hash with tobacco is (or used to be) common in the UK (and possibly other parts of Europe) but I don’t think anyone smokes that way in the US. Closest would be a blunt, made by emptying all the tobacco filler from a cheap cigar and using the tobacco wrapper to hold the weed. That’s the only way I’ve ever heard of people smoking marijuana with tobacco here, and it’s a pretty low proportion of tobacco.

Well, there aren;t many “two pack a day for 20 year” marijuana smokers as Jeff Lichtman sez, , and I’d guess if there was one he’d be too mellow even to care about lung cancer.

In general, moderate marijuana use seems to have no significant medical problems for most people. If you smoke only one joint or two on the weekends, you’re likely not doing yourself much harm.

OTOH, those tobacco users that smoke* one cigar a day aren’t exactly courting death either. Unless you have one of those “walking stick” sized cigars Mark Twain wrote about.

The problem being- tobacco, (esp when inhaled) is very addictive, and few cig smokers are “casual”. Marijuana does not seem to be addictive (again, those few “I smoke two joints in the morning…” users may indeed have a monkey on their back, but they are very rare).

  • assuming they don’t inhale. “Real” cigar smokers don’t inhale, but the dudes that smoke those little flavored cigarillos often do.

What fancy pants people have you been hanging out with? I only know of one person who has one, and I’ll guess it is not the majority of his usage although I can’t say for sure. Most people I know seem to use pipes, and joints are mainly for concerts, camping, fishing, or traveling. Bongs are sometimes broken out for parties but not very portable.

Well, I guess I’m overstating (duh). Traditional methods are still way more popular, but it seems like vaporizers are increasingly in popularity really quickly. Head shops seem to carry a bunch of em now, and they’re getting cheaper and (I hear) better.

Re Hari’s idea with the tobacconug – I’ve only seen (or, er, done) it in stealth situs. I used to solo stealth smoke in the park blocks of PDX by the same method – it works, and when you’re done, you’ve got a little cigarette to smoke to chill out.

Only people in US I’ve seen genuinely mixing tobacco with weed were Europeans trying to seem continental in the big city and grab some trim in the process. Blunts excepted. Don’t know why more people don’t use the blunts anymore – it makes a phat joint.

I’m similar - I don’t use pot, because I don’t like it (I tried to for a few years, off and on, and gave up many years ago), but it’s very common among my friends. Vaoporizers - I assume you mean bongs? - are rare but not unknown. For the regular dopers (heh) they don’t use those, they just smoke it.

And they smoke it often with some tobacco rolled in. I am in the UK - do you mean that, in the US, people, mostly smoke pure marijuana? People here don’t empty out a cigar or whatever, they just have rolling tobacco as well as marijuana.

Guys, take another look at what Qadgop said in post #5: One joint a day is equal to one pack of tobacco, not 20 joints. If somebody smokes one joint a day, they’re at roughly the same risk as a one-pack-a-day tobacco smoker. People who smoke two or three joints a day are at two or three times the risk.

Yes, in the US people smoke pure marijuana, and no, a vaporizer is not the same as a bong. Bongs are at least somewhat common here. Vaporizers are special devices with integrated electrical heating systems that heat the marijuana to a temperature far short of combustion but high enough for the THC and other cannabinoids to evaporate. I’ve only used one once, a long time ago. The vapor collected in a plastic bag with a small opening that you could inhale it through. It was very effective and produced practically no smoke, so it was much less irritating to the lungs, and nothing was wasted.

True, but with the medical pot you can get today a joint a day by yourself would be a lot. I would imagine anyone who smoked nearly that much would invest in a vaporizer: it would pay for itself just due to the better efficiency.