Can tobacco be made less unhealthy?

23 September 2012

Question

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 ;)

Answer

Kat - Well, this is a tough one because there basically isn't really a safe form of tobacco. It's 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. It's an interesting one because from what I have gathered, things like using bubble pipes and that kind of thing, they don't 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 it's 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, it's not really great idea anyway

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