Marijuana smoke contains some of the same cancer-causing compounds as tobacco, sometimes in higher concentrations. In fact, marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke.
1 Studies show that someone who smokes one joint may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes four cigarettes.
2 Regardless of THC content, the amount of tar and carbon monoxide delivered to the lungs is approximately three to five times greater for marijuana smoke than tobacco smoke.
3 This is largely due to differences in the method of smoking tobacco and marijuana, such as larger puff volumes and longer durations of inhalation with marijuana.
4 Cigarette smoking among youth may reduce the rate of lung growth and the level of maximum lung function that can be achieved.
5 Almost as many kids are trying and using marijuana as cigarettes. In many major cities marijuana use exceeds cigarette use among high school youth. In 2000, approximately 2.1 million youth under age 18 used marijuana for the first time, and 2.2 million tried cigarettes for the first time.
6 The number of youth who first try a cigarette or marijuana in the U.S. each year is greater than the combined population of Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana and the Dakotas.
7 Among tenth graders, the rate of current marijuana use is nearly the same as cigarettes. In 2002, 17.8 percent of 10th graders reported using marijuana and 17.7 percent reported using cigarettes in the past 30 days.
8 Marijuana use exceeds cigarette use among high school students in 13 of the 14 cities surveyed in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance survey, including: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, San Bernardino, San Diego, and San Francisco.
9 Marijuana use also exceeds cigarette use among high school students in eight of the 22 states surveyed, including: Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.
10 Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont are also five of the country’s top ten states with the highest percentage of marijuana users among youth ages 12 to 17.
11 There is a strong correlation between cigarette smoking and marijuana and other illicit drug use.
Teen tobacco smokers are 14 times likelier to try marijuana than those who have never smoked (84 percent vs. 6 percent).
12 A majority (57 percent) of teens who have tried marijuana smoked cigarettes first.
13 In 2000, more than half (51.7 percent) of 12 to 17 year olds who were daily smokers had used illicit drugs within the past month.
14 Tobacco and marijuana can also both be addictive, especially among adolescents.
While nicotine is more addictive than marijuana, it’s important to understand that more teens are in treatment for marijuana dependence than for all other illicit drugs combined.
15 A recent study found that when abstaining from marijuana for just three days, regular users experienced withdrawal symptoms, including drug cravings, decreased appetite, sleep difficulty and weight loss, along with increased aggression, anger, irritability and restlessness.
16 Teens are especially at risk for addiction because they generally become addicted to substances faster than adults and rarely receive early intervention because signs of their drug use are frequently passed off as typical teenage behavior. Research shows that marijuana use is three times more likely to lead to dependence among adolescents than among adults.
17 The best way to reduce youth smoking and toking is to prevent kids from starting. Recent trends in initiation rates are on the right track.
The number of new youth (under age 18) marijuana smokers in 2001 declined by 337,000 kids from the previous year.
18 This is equivalent to the population of nearly 450 averaged-sized U.S. high schools.
19 The number of new youth (under age 18) cigarette smokers declined by 267,000 from 1999 to 2000.
20 The number of new youth daily cigarette smokers declined by 350,000 kids from 2000 to 2001, reaching a low of 757,000 that hasn’t been seen since 1993.
21 Parents are the most important influence on their teen when it comes to tobacco and marijuana use, as well as other risky behaviors. They can help keep kids tobacco and drug-free by closely supervising their time, knowing who they are with, and setting clear rules. Two-thirds of youth aged 13 to 17 say that upsetting their parents or losing the respect of family and friends is one of the main reasons they don’t smoke marijuana or use other drugs.
22 Kids who learn about the risks of drug abuse from their parents or caregivers are about 36 percent less likely to smoke marijuana, 50 percent less likely to use inhalants, 56 percent less likely to use cocaine, and 65 percent less likely to use LSD than kids who don’t.
23 Parents should be aware that teens are more likely to have tried marijuana than they may think. In 2002, 18 percent of parents of teens said that they thought their teen has tried marijuana. In fact, more than twice that many teens (40 percent) report using the drug.