A study has revealed that hundreds of thousands of people who smoke cannabis say they do not smoke. Experts fear the findings mean cannabis users may not realize that smoking the drug carries many of the same health risks as tobacco smoking.
The study, published in the journal Addiction, and based on a survey of almost 13,000 British adults, estimates that 380,000 non – smokers smoke cannabis with or without tobacco at least weekly .
Another 830,000 tobacco smokers smoke cannabis at least weekly, suggesting that there could be around 1.2 million cannabis smokers in Britain, a figure confirmed by previous studies.
“It’s a matter of great concern,” said Hannah Walsh of King’s College London, one of the study’s authors. “They may not realize they are putting their health at risk. It is also a concern that people may be unfortunately establishing tobacco addiction, with cannabis acting as their path to a life of tobacco smoking. ”
The study considers recent research suggesting that UK-based recreational cannabis users who mix the drug with tobacco use around 0.35g of tobacco per component, co. -equivalent to one-third of cigarette content.
“This brings participants up to the levels of cotinine (the main metabolite of nicotine found in the bloodstream) which indicates that they have moderate tobacco exposure, similar to those found in light / moderate cigarette smokers, ”the study notes. It also points to research that finds that a combination of cannabis and tobacco exacerbates cardiovascular side effects and is associated with breast bronchitis.
“Cannabis and tobacco are generally seen as separate issues by the Government but the use is clearly intertwined,” said Hazel Cheeseman, policy director at Action on Smoking and Health. “There is an opportunity to address this in the government’s planned Slavery Strategy. This strategy needs to include measures to address the use of cannabis and tobacco and the damage to health. “
The study found that cannabis was used unfairly by younger people. Seven out of 10 people who took the drug in the last year were under 39 years old. It also indicated that people who reported using cannabis and tobacco together were more likely to report mental health problems than those who used either product alone.
Studies suggest that more than 75% of cannabis users in the UK mix the drug with tobacco – significantly lower than in other European countries.