Scientists have become increasingly interested in the correlations between smoking marijuana and smoking tobacco. With the recent waves of marijuana legalization spreading through states such as Oregon and Washington the question is quickly becoming what will be the unforeseen consequences and byproducts that legalization will create.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Megan Moreno, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, sought to calculate if smoking marijuana as well as tobacco would lead to more frequent usage as opposed to merely smoking one substance.
Moreno's study focused on 315 subjects who were interviewed about their previous smoking habits before entering their freshmen year of college. After their freshmen year there was a final interview conducted to track if those who smoked both substances used tobacco more frequently than those who only smoked one. The underlying premise focused on addiction spreading to multiple fronts in an individual. This has been previously seen to be true in a wide variety of co-occurring addictions that range from alcohol and tobacco to alcohol and pharmaceuticals.
The initial student interviews held by Moreno found that 43 percent of the subjects were currently smoking tobacco. Current tobacco users were also more likely to have smoked marijuana than those who did not smoke tobacco. The ending interview showed that of the 43 percent who had acknowledged their daily use of tobacco, two-thirds of students continued on with their habit. 53 percent of students also reported that they were using marijuana on a concurrent basis.
In order to track the direct relationship between concurrent marijuana and tobacco use, the students were observed for a 28-day period in which their intake of both substances was tracked. Students who smoked both marijuana and tobacco were seen to have an average of 42 tobacco related episodes a month, compared to only 24 tobacco episodes from those who only smoked cigarettes.
"These findings are significant because in the past year we have seen legislation passed that legalizes marijuana in two states. While the impact of these laws on marijuana use is a critical issue, our findings suggest that we should also consider whether increased marijuana use will impact tobacco use among older adolescents," said Moreno.
There will always be a battle between marijuana and tobacco users over the issue of which one presents more dramatic health dangers. However, when an individual uses both substances at the same time, their intake frequency dramatically increases. This can only suggest that if you must smoke something at least choose one and not both.
Chad Arias has a B.A. in journalism and is a contributor for the Latino Post and Opposing Views. In his free time, Arias writes poetry, short stories and is currently working on a novel detailing his experiences with substance abuse. He is most interested on the philosophical and psychological aspects of the subject.