SAM-USA Media Release 6 April 2021
A new study found that secondhand marijuana smoke could be more hazardous to one’s health than secondhand smoke from cigarettes.
The study compared emissions of fine particles, or particulate matter (PM 2.5) from tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke and found that the PM 2.5 emission rate of pre-rolled marijuana joints was 3.5 times higher than the average PM 2.5 emission rate of Marlboro cigarettes. Furthermore, the study also found that smoking marijuana indoors produced much more secondhand smoke emissions than the use of cigarettes indoors.
“Previous research has shown us that secondhand smoke from marijuana is a hazard to health to both smokers and non-smokers alike, and now this study shows that marijuana smoke distributes more harmful particles into the air than cigarettes do,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration. “With the recent declaration that the use of marijuana in public areas will be allowed under the new legalization law in New York State, this new research solidifies the need for further public health guardrails to be put in place, not only in New York but also in other states where the public use of marijuana proliferates. These risks to health cannot be ignored.”
This study follows previous research finding marijuana users had higher levels of smoke-related toxins in their blood and urine than non-smokers. Marijuana users were found to have higher levels of dangerous toxins such as naphthalene, acrylamide, and acrylonitrile than those who do not smoke marijuana or tobacco. These toxins are associated with severe harms such as cancer, anemia, and liver and mental health damage.
Legalization organizations have long targeted provisions of the Clean Indoor Air Act to allow for a marijuana exception. They have also denied the harms of secondhand smoke in areas such as public housing, which exposes the most vulnerable. Recent studies have found public housing exposes children to secondhand smoke more so than tobacco.