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 Tobacco vs Marijuana

March 24, 2022
Reviewed by: Lisa Misquith

Living in this cutthroat world, you are constantly competing in every aspect of your life. Whether it’s your school, office, or business, you will find competition everywhere. Getting ahead in this race is a highly stressful job that keeps you worried and anxious. To cope with emotional strain, you often resort to various coping mechanisms.

Smoking is a common relaxation habit that most people prefer to relieve their stress and help them unwind after a long and tiring day. There are various options available to you, such as tobacco intake through cigarettes and cigars or the consumption of marijuana. Based on your preferences and convenience, most often, people indulge in these substances for stress relief and relaxation. In this article, you will be focusing specifically on tobacco and marijuana and will compare the two for better understanding.

What is Tobacco?

Tobacco is a plant under the nicotine genus that falls under the Solanaceae family. The dried leaves of these plants are referred to as tobacco and used in various recreational substances like cigars and cigarettes. The various stimulants present in tobacco, such as nicotine, make it highly addictive and consumable. However, tobacco smoking is injurious to health and can lead to several diseases and illnesses.

What is Nicotine?

Nicotine is a nitrogen-based chemical found in the tobacco plant and the main component in products like cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco. It is a nervous system stimulant that boosts your brain and spinal cord activity. This chemical is both derived from tobacco plants and manufactured synthetically. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and the cause of several respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

What is Marijuana?

Marijuana is the dried buds, leaves, and stem of the cannabis plant and finds usage as a recreational and medicinal drug. The differentiating factor between marijuana and hemp is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC content in the drug. In recent years, several countries have legalised the usage of marijuana for medical purposes, but people who smoke weed every day are bound to experience mental and physical health illnesses.

Medical Usage of Marijuana:

Studies have proven that marijuana is a helpful drug in relieving symptoms of various diseases. Below is a list of illnesses that are treatable with the help of medical marijuana:

  • Conditions that affect the immune system, such as MS or AIDS, can use marijuana in their treatment. 
  • Patients suffering from chronic pain, muscle spasms, or arthritis can benefit from the use of this drug. 
  • Marijuana is also helpful in reducing nausea, vomiting, and even migraines. 
  • People struggling with the loss of appetite and eating disorders get prescribed marijuana. 
  • Serious diseases like cancer, epilepsy, seizures, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and Crohn’s disease. 
  • Patients battling mental health conditions like PTSD and schizophrenia get prescribed medical marijuana.

After learning the definition of both terms and the medical benefits of marijuana, it’s time to educate you about the effects of consuming both substances. Below are the side effects of smoking weed and tobacco.

Side Effects of Consuming Tobacco:

Here are the health effects you will observe from the first time and long-term usage of tobacco and its derived products.

Immediate respiratory symptoms from smoking tobacco include:

  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Coughing 
  • Dyspnea
  • Phlegm
  • Wheezing

Other notable side effects include:

  • Increased oxidative stress
  • Increased inflammation
  • Impaired immune system
  • Reduced antioxidant defence

Listed below are the harmful smoking side effects that can deter your health in the long term:

  • Nicotine addiction can severely interfere with the mental and physical health of the individual.
  • High risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart stroke, seizures, and other coronary diseases
  • Increased chances of respiratory diseases like lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema 
  • Tobacco consumption affects other organs such as the stomach, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and liver.
  • In addition to direct tobacco consumption, second-hand smoke from cigarettes can also cause heart and lung diseases.

Side Effects of Consuming Marijuana:

After legalising marijuana for medical use, people often ask, is smoking weed harmful? The answer to that is yes, and here are the immediate and long-term side effects of consuming marijuana:

Initial effects of consuming marijuana in any form include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Altered time sense
  • Impaired body movements
  • Impaired memory
  • Hallucination
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions

Are you wondering what happens when we smoke weed for extended periods? Here are the long-term reactions your body will experience from the frequent consumption of marijuana:

  • Individuals can develop an addiction to marijuana, severely affecting their physical and mental health. 
  • Increased consumption of this drug can deter brain development leading to reduced IQ levels. 
  • Cognitive impairment is another side effect that has the potential to disrupt your everyday operations.
  • Respiratory illnesses like cough, phlegm, and chest colds arise from the continuous use of marijuana. 
  • Frequent use of excessive quantities of the substance can result in lung cancer and chronic bronchitis.

Which is More Harmful, Tobacco or Marijuana? 

While both the drugs are harmful to your physical and mental health, excessive tobacco consumption is dangerous to your health. With the broader availability of tobacco-based products like cigarettes and cigars, more people fall prey to their addiction and develop deadly illnesses like mouth and lung cancer.

Marijuana, on the other hand, is less likely to cause direct deaths in its consumers but can still be equally fatal with people consuming the drug in excessive quantities. Most deaths related to marijuana come from motor vehicle accidents from driving under the influence. Finally, comparing the two, you can easily conclude that in the debate between weed vs cigarettes, marijuana is the less fatal drug out of the two.

Mortality Rates from the Consumption of Tobacco and Marijuana

According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, tobacco consumption causes over eight million deaths every year. While the vast majority of these deaths come from direct consumers of the substance, a significant portion – 1.2 million people, die from coming into contact with second-hand smoke.

If you are still indecisive on why and how to stop smoking weed, here are some stats to educate you. While marijuana consumption doesn’t have a high mortality rate like tobacco, it can still cause deaths due to other indirect factors. Most deaths related to people consuming marijuana arise from an overdose of the drug or motor vehicle accidents or suicides. Cancers of the lung and brain are also a potential cause of death for recreational marijuana users.

How to Break Your Tobacco or Marijuana Consumption Habit?

As hard as the addiction to tobacco and marijuana may be, it is still possible to stop smoking and break this deadly addiction.

  • Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Clearly define why you want to break this habit to avoid getting distracted or side-tracked. 
  • Consult a rehabilitation center with trained doctors and psychiatrists to help you determine how to quit smoking tobacco or weed.
  • Learn about nicotine replacement therapy and give it a chance after consulting your doctor.
  • Opt for prescription pills specified by your doctor after considering your medical and addiction history.
  • Start slow with no smoking day and gradually extend that period into weeks, months, and years so that you don’t relapse.
  • Avoid triggers that can potentially promote your addiction by restricting alcohol consumption.


We hope you have become aware of the side effects of consuming tobacco and marijuana after reading this article. You have learned what these substances are and how regular consumption of tobacco and marijuana can affect your health. You have also understood which of the two

substances is more harmful to your health and learned how to stop smoking. Incorporating this information into your life will guide you to stay safe from becoming addicted to them and protect your health.


Tobacco- Article by WHO

Health effects of cigarette smoking by CDC Govt.

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What is Marijuana – By NIH