The Truth About Tobacco and Marijuana



Are non food, mood-altering substances that are not deemed medically necessary but that are used in an effort to escape from the problems of life, to get a dreamy feeling, or a sense of well-being or of elation.

Tobacco-An addictive substance containing toxic substances with eventual harmful effects when ingested into the body. Tobacco contains thirty different substances such as nicotine, arsenic, alcohol and ammonia. Nicotine is one of the oldest, the most widely used, and, in the same amounts, stronger and more addictive than cocaine. The euphoric effect of nicotine is the same as morphine and cocaine.

According to one researcher, “tobacco contains as nice a collection of poisons as you will find anywhere. The tobacco used in pipes and cigars contains more nicotine, more cancerous tars, and produces more dangerous carbon monoxide gas than that used in cigarettes.

Marijuana (Also known as pot, reefer, grass, ganja, or weed) has been the focus of much controversy among experts.

Marijuana is a drug prepared by drying the leaves, flowering tops, stems and seeds of the hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa. Hence, the name sometimes used for it- ‘Cannabis’ Its common name is “pot.” In India it is called bhang. Hashish is another form of cannabis, made from the resin of the plant and usually pressed into the form of blocks or chunks of varying potency. Hashish and an oil made from it are of greater strength than marijuana.

For one thing, marijuana is extremely complex; a marijuana cigarette contains over 400 chemical compounds in its smoke. It took doctors over 60 years to realize cigarette smoke causes cancer. It may likewise take decades before anyone knows for sure just what marijuana’s 400 compounds do to the human body.

Marijuana smoke, like the smoke from tobacco, consists of a number of toxic substances, such as tars which are only soluble in fat and stored in body tissues, including brain, for weeks and months, like DDT. The storage capacity of tissues for these substances is enormous-which explains their slow deleterious effects in habitual smokers.


-Some take these substances to escape from their problems: Failure to develop the skills needed for coping with problems may eventually force an individual to smoking.

-To satisfy curiosity

-To ease depression or boredom

-Peer pressure

-For the pleasure of it-

-To be with the crowd-to feel, cool, grown-up, sophisticated.

-By smoking, teenagers feel independent, whereas they are capitulating to peer pressure.


-The quality of family life or rather the lack of it may affect whether young people take it or not

-Family breakdown (divorce and separation); Eighty percent of drug addicts have serious family problems. They come from a very repressive or a very permissive family or from a home without a father.”

-Emotional conflicts: adolescence is an emotionally turbulent period; hence young ones take drugs to escape the turbulence

-Substance abusers are also being manipulated by the tobacco companies. The companies know that their future is with the youth. If youths can be made addicts in their teens, they will likely be good customers for life.


Vascular- Researcher have further linked smoking with the hardening and general deterioration of small arteries. The doctor concluded. Smoking damages these particular arteries and makes their walls stiff. So when a pulse of blood comes down, the vessel can’t expand (to ease its passage). That would happen in old age anyway, but it happens twice as fast in smokers.”

Blood – Cigarette smoking causes immediate and damaging changes in teenagers’ blood, the kind of changes that lead to early artery problems and heart disease.

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Hearing – Smoking poses a “special risk of hearing loss” for “people who work or live in high-noise-level environments. Researchers found that the hearing of smokers who were exposed to loud noise for several minutes “took much longer to return to normal” than that of non smokers.

Skin – Smoker’s Face- Many doctors believe that smoking may make a person’s facial skin look older. The faces of smokers and non-smokers are not very different at age 30. But by 40 and 50 the differences are apparent.

Tooth and bone loss- Smoking is one of the biggest factors in teeth loss. Smokers suffers a greater incidence of tooth and bone loss. They also had a greater build-up of plaque and tartar, which collect on the teeth and contribute to gum disease and decay. Smoking causes constriction of the blood vessels in the gum tissue, thus reducing the circulation and speeding up the disease process.”

Heart- Cigarette smoking as the cause of a rare but lethal heart disease named cardio-myopathy. This disease weakens the whole heart muscle, thereby inhibiting proper blood circulation. The result is eventually heart failure.

Respiratory- Smokers have a much higher risk of pulmonary complications from surgery than do non-smokers. These include lung collapse and infections leading to such diseases as pneumonia. Some suffer sore throats from smoking cannabis while others suffer from bronchitis. Marijuana users were also found to have bronchial lesions characteristic of the early stages of cancer.

Nervous- Marijuana is damaging to the brain, impairing mental functions, even when a person is not under its immediate influence.

It can be said with confidence that marijuana produces acute effects on the brain, including chemical and electrophysiological changes.” Although at present, there is no conclusive proof that marijuana permanently damages the brain. Nevertheless, the possibility that marijuana might in any way do harm to “the golden bowl” should not be dismissed lightly.

Marijuana is known “to cause birth defects when administered in large doses to experimental animals.” Whether it has the same effects on humans is thus far unproved. It should be remembered, though, that birth defects (such as the one caused by the hormone DES) often take years to manifest themselves. So, what the future holds for the children-and grandchildren-of marijuana smokers remains to be seen.

Cancer- Tobacco causes cancer in the cheeks, gums, and throat. These findings do not surprise experts. One study notes: “Snuff has the highest level of cancer-causing agents of any product taken into the body.” No wonder that “long-term snuff users have a 50% greater risk of developing oral cancer than nonusers.

For example, those who regularly chew or dip can get cracked lips, stained teeth, bad breath, and sore gums-nothing to smile about. In addition, their ability to taste and smell decreases while their heartbeat and blood pressure increase.

Whether one chew or suck on moist snuff held between cheek and gum (called dipping), oral cancer, gum disease, and nicotine addiction are inevitable consequences. Cancer develops where the tobacco touches cheek and gum, and the malignancy often spreads to other parts of the body. Smokeless tobacco contains 20 or more cancer-causing nitrosamines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Nutritional- Smoking destroys the vitamin C that a person takes in from food and drink. Nicotine decreased the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of the blood by 24 to 31 percent. Thus smokers are in much greater need of this essential vitamin. This explains why those who smoke generally are more prone to infections than those who do not. For example, smokers are more likely to catch the flu during an epidemic and they usually have it worse than non-smokers. Marijuana produces lower resistance to disease, as well as damage to chromosomes and genes.

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Reproductive- Marijuana use has resulted in lower levels of male sex hormones, which has produced problems related to the male reproductive system

Fetal damage- Smoking during pregnancy damages fetal arteries. This damage is evident with the high incidence of congenital malformations, low birth weights and premature separations among babies of women who smoke.

Even father’s smoking may harm fetus. Studies show that when a non-smoking pregnant woman is exposed to the cigarette smoke of other people [such as the father], the fetal blood contains significant amounts of tobacco smoke by-products.

Infants- Because the brain’s barrier to drugs and the liver, which detoxifies nicotine, are less well developed in infants than in adults, passive smoking is particularly harmful to them. Damages could range from aversion to certain foods, due to nausea caused by tobacco smoke, to sudden infant death syndrome.

Tobacco Hinders Sleep and Memory- Smokers generally find it harder to sleep than non-smokers do, and sleep habits of smokers who suddenly quit improve dramatically according to researchers.

Life expectancy- Smoking-related diseases are important causes of disability and premature deaths.

And as regards cigarette-related fires, not a few of the deaths and injuries in residential fires is started by smoldering cigarettes.

Social effects

Accidents- Driving a car under the influence of marijuana can be every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Not surprisingly, drug users are also three or four times more likely to be involved in accidents at work.

Home- Parents who are distracted by their craving for drugs rarely provide their children with a stable home life. Infant-parent bonding-so vital during the first weeks of a child’s life-can even be inhibited. Many children who grow up in this environment take to the streets or even get involved in drugs themselves.

Employment- Addicted individuals frequently get into debt or may end up losing their jobs either due to absenteeism, truancy or negligence.

Physical Abuse- Drug abuse can also lead to physical abuse-of the spouse or of the children. Cannabis especially when combined with alcohol can provoke violent behavior in a person who may otherwise be quite gentle.

Effect on Others – More than ten studies last year showed that passive smoking-inhaling the smoke from the cigarettes of others-caused lung cancer in the non-smoking spouses of smokers. Research indicates that “spouses of smokers are two or three times more likely to get lung cancer than those of non-smokers.” One study “estimated that passive smoking in the United States causes more cancer deaths than all regulated industrial air pollutants combined. The more smokers one has lived with, the higher the risk”.

Children with parents who smoke have more colds, influenza, bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia. Learning ability is damaged in children of mothers who smoke. In India, 39 percent of the women chew tobacco. Underweight babies are the result.

Society- A far greater cost, however, is the social damage drugs do to the community. No price could be put on the disintegration of so many families, the abuse of so many children, the corruption of so many officials, and the premature death of so many people.


by Okesola Josiah