Thursday, January 12, 2012
Some recent studies gaining different levels of publicity in the tobacco and cigarette space revolve around the impacts of marijuana and electronic cigarettes on the lungs, as well as the impact of certain smoking cessation options.
Of course, the study claiming that marijuana smoking does not harm the lungs is gaining the most significant attention. The study stating that electronic cigarettes can harm the lungs received considerably less attention and was quickly questioned by a health organization, while the smoking cessation study gained moderate media coverage, but did not include electronic cigarettes as an option.
It seems that just about any organization can find or create a study to justify or demonize whatever product or program they are trying to promote or shutdown. In addition, many of these studies seem designed to gain maximum publicity by coming to the most controversial or newsworthy conclusion. For example, there are studies that claim sheep and elephants can distinguish faces, women wearing red seem more attractive and women with better figures are smarter.
So, let’s start with the electronic cigarette study, which at least acknowledges up front that its sample size was “small.” In fact, the study in the medical journal Chest from the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Hellenic Cancer Society in Greece had 30 healthy smokers puff an electronic cigarette to find that after five minutes, users showed signed of airway constriction and inflammation.
Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices that allow smokers to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine in place of tobacco smoke and the accompanying burning toxins. Electronic cigarettes typically consist of nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and flavorings.
Besides that you would think any Center for Tobacco Control might start with an inherent bias, even the leader of the study admitted that more long-term studies are needed on electronic cigarettes. Do you think? Anyone who believes that having 30 people inhale anything for five minutes isn’t going to have negative effects might as well be smoking something else.
Speaking of smoking funny cigarettes, the marijuana study researchers followed more than 5,000 people over two decades to find that regularly smoking marijuana — the equivalent of up to a joint a day over seven years — did not impair performance on a lung function test that measured pulmonary obstruction as the amount of air a person can force out in one second after taking a deep breath, which is typically worsened by smoking tobacco.
So, have we come to the point where smoking pot is more acceptable than smoking cigarettes? This study would make it would almost seem so as it focused more on lung capacity and less of marijuana effects like reduced attention, lower motivation, risk of accidents and increased appetite aka “the munchies.”
At least the marijuana study used a credible sample size of 5,100 men and women in four major U.S. cities over a 20-year period and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study does come at a time of more common legal use of medical marijuana and increased use and acceptance among young people.