Smoking: Inhaling this substance could be more harmful than smoking cigarettes

New research finds that inhaling second-hand cannabis smoke may be more dangerous than smoke from cigarettes.

Doing this is more harmful than smoking cigarettes
© Getty/ LanaStock
Doing this is more harmful than smoking cigarettes

Inhaling marijuana smoke could have dire impacts on your health, a new study has shown. The research concluded that smoke from bongs - water pipes used to smoke cannabis - could pose more danger than inhaling second hand smoke from someone smoking a cigarette.

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The study

The study, published in the JAMA Open Network, attributes this to the high concentration of fine particles found in the smoke inhaled from someone using a bong. This particulate matter is so fine, it penetrates the respiratory system faster, making it potentially harmful.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, arrived at this conclusion after measuring levels of the particles before, during and after eight sessions of social activities that involved the smoking of cannabis. One of the researchers, S Katherine Hammond told the San Francisco Chronicle:

We exerted no control and gave no direction to the students on how to smoke the cannabis in the bong. They were free to smoke as much as they wanted when they started the session.

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Four times more

The team used an aerosol monitor to measure the air quality prior to, during and after each of the eight sessions. They then compared the data to that of tobacco smokers and found that second hand cannabis smoke contained four times the amount of fine particulate matter than second-hand tobacco smoke. The research concluded:

This cohort study suggests that, contrary to popular beliefs, bong smoking is not safe … Incorrect beliefs about SHCS [second hand cannabis smoke] safety promote indoor cannabis smoking.
Second hand from cigarettes contain less harmful particles than smoke from cannabis. Getty/ VioletaStoimenova

In a statement, Hammond explained that second hand smoke from marijuana could have serious health implications for children.

[SHCS] can actually affect the health of children who are nearby or other people in pretty serious ways. We need to wake up to that.
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