Science Questions

Can tobacco be made less unhealthy?

Sat, 22nd Sep 2012

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show What shape web does a spider spin in space?


Flor asked:

Can tobacco be charred and if so, will it be less bad for you to smoke it?

a friend of mine smokes medicinal marihuana and somehow refuses to believe in vapourizing it to keep health problems further away. He claims that wrapping some tobacco in alufoil and then heating it on a stove takes out most of the bad stuff that's in there, while still alowing it to burn when rolled in a cigarette with marihuana. Does this make any sense? I'd love to know whether I should think of him as smart or stupid ;)


Kat -   Well, this is a tough one because there basically isnít really a safe form of tobacco.  Itís full of lots and lots of different chemicals, many of which are quite damaging and the obvious one is nicotine, which tobacco is basically a delivery mechanism for the drug, nicotine.  Itís an interesting one because from what I have gathered, things like using bubble pipes and that kind of thing, they donít actually take a lot of the chemicals out of the smoke.  You're still burning it and these damaging chemicals are still going through the smoke, and into your lungs.  In terms of marijuana, I think the original question asks about whether itís just as damaging to smoke marijuana or mix with tobacco and smoke it, and it is actually the act of burning tobacco, and burning marijuana.  When you burn organic matter, it releases certain chemicals, things like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and these are some of the chemicals that cause damage to your lungs and to other parts of your body.  There's also all sorts of other chemicals that are in there.  So, partly the act of just burning stuff and breathing it in, breathing in smoke, is giving yourself a dose of chemicals.  And even things like chewing tobacco, snuff, all of those things, the chemicals are still going to go into your body and damage you in some way.  So, itís not really great idea anyway


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

Potentially one could isolate certain active ingredients such as nicotine, or THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), and take just that single component of the tobacco or marijuana which should be safer than burning the stuff.  I.E. nicotine patches.

I am also doubtful that kitchen stove preparations would do much to improve the safety of the smokes, and could potentially make it worse.

In fact, things like filters which were initially introduced to improve the safety of cigarettes have now been proven to have little benefit for the safety of the cigarettes. CliffordK, Tue, 25th Sep 2012

Tobacco, can't but nicotine can. In Canada, they have tried to market an electronic cigarette that would vaporize nicotine to be inhaled into the lungs, but couldn't "prove" it was entirely safe, even though its almost certainly safer than already legal regular cigarettes. There is of course the gum, but smokers have a hard time transitioning to that delivery method which is a lot slower and less gratifying. cheryl j, Tue, 25th Sep 2012

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society