Following last week’s story on the study which found that the biggest potential health risks from using cannabis is combining it with tobacco, we decided to find out how dangerous tobacco use with cannabis really is, and whether cannabis users would take heed of this warning.
The conclusion from the study that researchers reached was that the majority of health risks cannabis users face could be reduced simply by discouraging people from smoking with tobacco. They even went as far as recommending people opt for vaporisers instead.
The study mentioned is not the only study conducted on the impact tobacco has on cannabis use. The British Lung Foundation’s study found that when you smoke cannabis and tobacco together, the harmful effects are significantly worse.
The BLF’s study found that smoking 3-4 joints (cannabis joints with tobacco) a day causes roughly the same damage to smoking a 20 deck of cigarettes a day: leaving users exposed to acute and chronic bronchitis and the same degree of damage to the bronchial mucosa.
The way that users inhale spliffs is one of the main issues. Because cannabis users tend to inhale joints/spliffs deeper than they would a cigarette, the puff volume increases by two-thirds and depth of inhalation by one-third. There is also an average fourfold longer breath-holding time with cannabis than with tobacco. All of this means is that there is a greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and smoke particulates such as tar than when smoking a similar quantity of tobacco.
Smoking cannabis with tobacco also increases dependence, which might sound obvious (seeing as nicotine is the third most addictive substance in the world). A study in Frontiers in Psychiatry found that mixing between the two substances also vastly increases the risk of dependence in users, both to tobacco and cannabis!
Speaking on the findings, lead researcher from the Frontiers in Psychiatry study, Chandni Hindocha, said: “Cannabis is less addictive than tobacco, but we show here that mixing tobacco with cannabis lowers the motivation to quit using these drugs.”
The study found that it’s primarily Europeans who contaminate their cannabis with tobacco.
Between 77.2-90.9% of Europeans mix with tobacco, compared to 51.6% of Australians.
Compared to only 4.4%of Americans and 16% of Canadians combine cannabis with tobacco, it’s no wonder that UK researchers came out recently to reiterate the dangers of mixing to Brits.
Cannabis, on its own, however, is not addictive. If smoked with tobacco, however, it can reduce your motivation to quit smoking tobacco, which is never a good thing. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the UK, where nearly half-a-million people were were admitted to hospital in 2008-9 due to smoking. How can you enjoy your herbs if you’re dead?
According to yet another study, smoking tobacco on its own also increases the risk of dependence on cannabis, independent of tobacco itself.
Researchers found that smoking cigarettes mediated the relationship between cannabis use and cannabis dependence, even when controlling for psychological and demographic correlates that might explain this relationship. The suggestion here is that cigarette smoking enhances vulnerability to the harmful effects of cannabis.
So, if you’re craving a joint, it might just be the nicotine in the tobacco you’re craving, not the high from the cannabis!
Gary experienced this craving when he quit tobacco five years ago: “I quit smoking cigs, but still had a joint with tobacco before bed to help with sleep.
“I started craving that Joint. Obviously for the nicotine. It would be on my mind all day.”
It was only when Gary discovered vaporisers that he was able to use cannabis to induce sleep without having the 24hour craving for nicotine: “After I discovered vaporisers I realised I could use cannabis to sleep without the tobacco.
“I mean, obviously, I’d done pipes and stuff, but I preferred the taste with tobacco until I got one of these things.”
The fact that the above study suggested that smoking just 3-4 joints a day may cause the same damages as a full 20 deck should put anyone off using tobacco with their cannabis. This was certainly the case for some of our readers.
Renmko also experienced this nicotine craving before she quit: “The craving for a spliff really came from the nicotine addiction, so once I got that addiction out of the way, it became more like, ‘hmm I could go for a bowl or a joint right now, instead of ‘f*ck mate, I wanna smoke a spliff so bad right now!”
Renmko, however, used cannabis to help her quit tobacco! She told us that before quitting tobacco, she was smoking a pack a day, but has since been smoking cannabis without contaminating it with tobacco: “Smoking pure has helped my lungs massively!
“My physical condition is a lot better, I smell more, I taste more and the effect of pure cannabis is a thousand times better than with tobacco!”
Her advice for other cannabis users addicted to tobacco may sound simplistic, but should resonate with a lot of us: “Just stop it!
“Get a nice bag, prepare yourself for a week of being extremely grumpy and not being able to sleep properly for a week, that’s why smoking a lot in the beginning helps!
“Just do it, it’s the best decision I ever made!”
Kieran shared a similar experience after cannabis helped him cut out his 10-a-day habit.
He told us: “I started smoking when I was 14 year’s old and stopped when I was 19. I spent my teenage years completely abusing my body as that’s what all my friends were doing and I just thought it’s what I’m meant to do.”
However, once Kieran started smoking cannabis daily, he realised the damage tobacco, and alcohol, was having on his body: “When I started really smoking weed all-day-everyday, it made me really feel what’s bad for my body like smoking and drinking alcohol.
“I came to the realisation that I should stop drinking and smoking and just continue to smoke weed. I’ve done so for the past 4-5 year’s now!”
Quitting tobacco, with the help of cannabis, has had an enormously positive impact on Kieran’s life and health: “I’ve been training boxing for over 3 years now, and I’ve had 4 amateur bouts and my fitness is through the roof!
“I credit all this to the fact that cannabis helped me realise my potential and what I should and should not be doing.”
Martin ditched tobacco for a vaporiser, and told us how great the switch has been: “I changed from spliff to vaping, and it’s amazing!
“For the first few days I didn’t think I was getting stoned until I got up to go to bed and then really felt it.
Smoking without tobacco also may have the potential to enhance your high! It certainly did for Martin: “I definitely prefer the high without the tobacco, I feel less edgy, and I no longer have that craving to smoke again soon after.”
Renmko also attested to the cannabis high being better without tobacco: “There’s better benefits and even a better high.
“Plus, you know what the craziest thing is? Eventually, I actually smoke less cannabis than before!”
So it does seem that cannabis can, in fact, help those addicted to nicotine quit tobacco. However, it’s important to remember that cannabis is not a wonder, cure-all, drug
Andy told us that his nicotine cravings would be impossible to manage without his nicotine mints: “I use nicotine mints for the cravings would be impossible without them, they help so much.”
Andy explained that cannabis oil helps the cravings along with the mints: “I have learned how to cook with cannabis, so I make my own canna-oil now.
“The oil is amazing and so much stronger than smoking it! I’m sticking to my mints and oil from now on!”
Smoking tobacco in any sense is a bad idea. Coupled with the fact you inhale spliffs deeper and for longer, it may be a wise idea to roll that next one pure.