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2023 Study: Tobacco Reduces Lung Airflow, But Cannabis Does Not

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

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Tobacco vs. Cannabis Study

A 2023 study entitled "Do Tobacco and Cannabis Use and Co-use Predict Lung Function: A Longitudinal Study" that was published in the journal Respiratory Medicine examined "whether cigarette smoking or cannabis use and co-use are each associated with lung function in a population sample of young adults."


The study reported that use of both cannabis and tobacco is common "and has been reported to predict lung function," but that relatively little is known about co-use of the two substances and their potential impact on lung health and function.

A woman smokes a tobacco cigarette.
How do tobacco and pot compare?

Tobacco vs. Cannabis Study Design

Tobacco vs. Cannabis Study. The research analyzed lung function data from a human trial study featuring participants who smoked cigarettes, those who smoked cannabis, and cohort members who used both at 21 and 30 years of age.


"Participants smoked cigarettes, smoked cannabis, or used both and answered a questionnaire at 21 and 30 years of age."

Study participants were "the children of pregnant women who were recruited into the cohort study over the period 1981–1983 and were given a spirometry assessment (common pulmonary [lung] function test) at the age of 21 and also, in follow-up, at the age of 30. The participants completed a smoking and cannabis use questionnaire at both the 21-year-old and 30-year-old visits.

A woman holds a cannabis joint.
Pot did not reduce airflow.

Tobacco vs. Cannabis Study Results

Tobacco vs. Cannabis Study. The research reported that cigarette smoking—with or without cannabis consumption—is associated with reduced airflow in the lungs. However, despite finding harm from tobacco consumption, the study reported "no consistent association between cannabis use and measures of [harm to] lung function." The investigation's data revealed no indication that cannabis smoking was harmful to lung function.


The study reported "no consistent association between cannabis use and measures of [harm to] lung function."

In addition, the study's authors reported that participants who used both tobacco and cannabis "appear to entail no additional risk to lung function beyond the risks associated with tobacco use alone."


The scientists concluded that chronic tobacco smoking results in reduced airflow—even in young adults—but that cannabis use "does not appear to be related to lung function, even after years of use."


View the original study.

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