Smoking pot 20 times riskier than cigarette
A “DANGEROUS” lack of awareness about smoking cannabis could be putting millions of people at risk, a leading charity warned today.
Most people (88 per cent) believe smoking cigarettes is worse than cannabis, but in fact the risk of developing lung cancer is 20 times greater from a cannabis joint than a legal tobacco cigarette, according to a new report from the British Lung Foundation (BLF).
The report highlights an alarming disconnect between the public perception of cannabis as a relatively safe drug, and the serious, potentially fatal impact it can have on the lungs of people who smoke it.
Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the BLF, said: “It is alarming that, while new research continues to reveal the multiple health consequences of smoking cannabis, there is still a dangerous lack of public awareness of quite how harmful this drug can be.
“Young people in particular are smoking cannabis unaware that, for instance, each cannabis cigarette they smoke increases their chances of developing lung cancer by as much as an entire packet of 20 tobacco cigarettes.”
According to the BLF survey, 6.8 per cent of 16 to 59-year-olds in England and Wales have used cannabis in the past year – approximately 2.2 million people. This makes cannabis the most commonly used illicit drug in the UK.
Dame Helena added: “This is not a niche problem. Cannabis is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the UK, with almost a third of the population having tried it.
“We therefore need a serious public health campaign, of the kind that has helped raise awareness of the dangers of eating fatty foods or smoking tobacco, to finally dispel the myth that smoking cannabis is somehow a safe pastime.”
The BLF said its report is the most comprehensive review of research data yet compiled on the subject of cannabis use.
More than 1,000 respondents were asked which, out of smoking a joint and smoking a typical tobacco cigarette, increases the risk of developing lung cancer the most. A total of 88 per cent said tobacco cigarettes posed the greatest risk, and just 12 per cent said cannabis.
Almost a third of those surveyed (32 per cent) said smoking cannabis is not harmful to health, with the figure rising to almost 40 per cent among the under-35s. However, smoking one cannabis cigarette a day for a year increases the risk of lung cancer by 8 per cent, according to the BLF report.
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