No, Smoking Cannabis Is Not More Harmful Than Smoking Cigarettes

This week, the British press were very eager to report on a new study that suggest cannabis smokers are slightly more likely to develop lung disease than cigarette smokers.

However, what most of them failed to mention is that experiment’s results did not find that. 

The results showed that those who smoke cannabis as well as cigarettes were more likely to get lung disease than cigarette-only smokers. 

The study 

In this recent study, researchers a group of 57 non-smokers, 33 tobacco-only smokers, and 56 cannabis smokers. 

Although, please note, at least some of the participants in the cannabis smokers group also smoke tobacco – we don’t know how many but the study authors admit “concomitant cigarette smoking among the marijuana-smoking cohort limits our ability to draw strong conclusions.”

It was found that airway inflammation and emphysema are more common in the cannabis smokers group than in cigarette smokers and nonsmokers.

The researchers looked for evidence of emphysema and other lung changes using image analysis of chest CT scans. They found that people who smoked cannabis had higher rates of airway changes than people who only smoked tobacco or nonsmokers.

Emphysema is a disease of the small air sacs in the lungs when the walls of those sacs get damaged. 

The reaction

On November 15th, The Daily Mail reported on the story with the headline: ‘Marijuana smokers are MORE likely to develop lung disease than cigarette users, shock study finds’

Halfway down the article, however, they do point out that “one of the limits of the study was that most cannabis users were also either current or former tobacco smokers – meaning the damage might have already been done.”

Many other publications pounced on the study, presumably because cannabis scare stories attract lots of website clicks. 

The truth about cannabis and tobacco smoke

The truth is that cannabis smoke is a lot less harmful to your health than tobacco smoke – although combining the two may increase certain risks. 

Just last week a study found that while cannabis smoke could be associated with an increased risk of bronchitis, it isn’t a likely cause of small airway injury, lung disease, lung cancer, or COPD. 

Meanwhile, smoking cigarettes can cause significant damage to a person’s long-term health, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and lung disease. 

Scientists have described cannabis smoke as “distinctly different from tobacco” as there is no link between cannabis smoke exposure and an elevated risk of pulmonary diseases. 

Read more: Cannabis Smoke Vs Tobacco Smoke: Which Is Worse?

Healthy ways to consume cannabis

The healthiest ways to take cannabis do not include smoking it. This is because the process of combustion produces lots of harmful chemicals. 

By using a dry herb vape, you will use temperatures too low to burn the plant material but hot enough to vaporise the plant’s oils, including its cannabinoid content. 

Not only that, a recent study has found that vaping weed rather than smoking it results in a lot more THC being absorbed into your bloodstream, which means a more powerful high.


Smoking both tobacco and cannabis may increase certain harms, it’s plain wrong to say that cannabis smoke is more harmful than cigarette smoke. 

In fact, it’s well established that cannabis smoke is distinctly different from tobacco smoke and has no association with an elevated risk of pulmonary diseases. 

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