The great many downsides of smoking are certainly well-documented by now (to say the least), but something I've struggled to find an answer to is the following:

When looking at health risks of smoking, what's caused by the substance in question being absorbed and interacting negatively with the body, and what's caused simply by the act of inhaling smoke?

My assumption would be that most of the damage is caused by the inhalation of the smoke itself, especially any damage to the mouth, oesophagus, and lungs, smoke (any kind) simply being dangerously irritating to these parts of the body. Then, damage to the brain and/or other parts of the body are mostly caused by the specific substance being smoked... How much of this assumption is correct?

Perhaps it's misleading to try and separate the smoke from what's causing the smoke at all, as what's creating the smoke dictates how bad it is. However, if that's the case, doesn't that imply that some products for smoking, while still bad, may create smoke which is "less damaging" than others?

For ease of answering, feel free to just concentrate on tobacco products (possibly including any additional chemicals added to the final product) if you feel it's necessary to keep your answer from not being too long.

  • Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes is obviously dangerous for health. Cigarette smoking causes most cases of lung cancer.
    – user5284
    Jul 22, 2016 at 6:55
  • Can you add references to back up your assertions?
    – JohnP
    Jul 22, 2016 at 21:22
  • Hi @user5284 , sorry, but I can't accept this answer as in its current state it doesn't really answer the question.
    – RPBCL
    Jul 24, 2016 at 2:12
  • Obviously smoke from different plant material is composed differently. For a scientific discussion regarding the difference between cannabis and tobacco smoke see for example: harmreductionjournal.com/content/2/1/21 Apr 13, 2018 at 14:44
  • I might also refer to this answer for differences in smoke constitution i.e. tobacco plant are usually heavily loaded with pesticide, use low grade fertilizer and do not contain potential tumor inhibiting substances such as thc and cbd...skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/17539/… Apr 13, 2018 at 14:47


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