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Does marijuana “blunt” smoking contribute to nicotine exposure?: Preliminary product testing of nicotine content in wrappers of cigars commonly used for blunt smoking

Affiliations

  • 1 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 6115 Falls Road, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 1100 Dexter Avenue North, Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98109-3598, USA; Health Services Department, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
  • 3 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 6115 Falls Road, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • PMID: 27639129
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.09.007

Does marijuana “blunt” smoking contribute to nicotine exposure?: Preliminary product testing of nicotine content in wrappers of cigars commonly used for blunt smoking

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Authors

Affiliations

  • 1 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 6115 Falls Road, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 1100 Dexter Avenue North, Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98109-3598, USA; Health Services Department, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
  • 3 Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research, Battelle Memorial Institute, 6115 Falls Road, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • PMID: 27639129
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.09.007

Abstract

Introduction: An increasingly popular method of consuming marijuana is through the smoking of “blunts,” cigar products in which some or all of the tobacco filler is removed and repacked with marijuana. Even if all tobacco filler is removed from the cigar product in the process of making blunts, nicotine may be present in the wrapper of the cigar product. This preliminary analysis quantified the nicotine content in wrappers of cigar products commonly used for blunt smoking.

Methods: Five cigar products (3 large cigars, 2 cigarillos) were tested, yielding physical characteristics of cigar length, diameter, weight, and wrapper weight. Nicotine concentration in the wrapper of each cigar product was analyzed via gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Total nicotine content in the wrapper of each cigar product was computed as the product of cigar wrapper weight and nicotine concentration in wrapper.

Results: Depending on the product, the cigar wrapper contributed between 8 and 18% of the weight of the entire cigar article. Total nicotine content in the cigar wrapper ranged from 1.2 to 6.0mg per cigar.

Discussion: All 5 tested cigar products had wrappers that contain quantifiable levels of nicotine, indicating that users of blunts may expose themselves to some degree of nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco. Future experimental studies that examine the efficiency of nicotine delivery from typical blunt smoking, as well as surveillance studies that quantify the number of blunts smoked by an individual per day, are needed to evaluate the contribution of blunt smoking to nicotine dependence.

Keywords: Blunts; Cannabis; Marijuana; Nicotine; Smoking; Tobacco.

Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

All 5 tested cigar products had wrappers that contain quantifiable levels of nicotine, indicating that users of blunts may expose themselves to some degree of nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco. Future experimental studies that examine the efficiency of nicotine delivery from typical blunt …

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How much tobacco is in a marijuana blunt?

Since marijuana ‘blunt’ smoking (i.e., rolling marijuana inside a hollowed cigar) is quite popular in the US, my research has been trying to understand the causes and potential health consequences of this mixing of tobacco and marijuana. However, a vexing and unanswered question is the degree to which blunt smokers are even exposed to nicotine. Working with my collaborators at Johns Hopkins and RTI International, our recent research begins to answer this question. I’ve been invited to present these new findings at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) conference in June 2016. Below is the abstract for our late-breaking research:

Nicotine content of cigar shells and wraps used for making marijuana blunts

Brian J. Fairman, Brian F. Thomas, and Ryan G. Vandrey

Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD

Background: Half of past-month cannabis users in the US report “blunt” use, i.e., cannabis wrapped in a cigar shell. Significant nicotine exposure may result, affecting use patterns, dependence, and health-related harms, but the level of exposure is unclear. The present study assessed the nicotine content of cigar shells commonly used to make blunts and evaluated biomarkers of nicotine exposure in blunt users.

Methods: Gas chromatography (GC) was used to measure the nicotine content (mg/g) of cigar shells in 8 commercial products, including complete cigars and cigar wrappers sold without tobacco fill. Product weight (g) and median nicotine content were compared to standard reference cigarettes. Semi-quantitative (LOQ 200ng/mL) testing for cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, was conducted on urine samples from daily blunt users self-reporting no other nicotine/tobacco use (N=6).

Since marijuana 'blunt' smoking (i.e., rolling marijuana inside a hollowed cigar) is quite popular in the US, my research has been trying to understand the causes and potential health consequences of this mixing of tobacco and marijuana. However, a vexing and unanswered question is the degree to which blunt smokers are even exposed to nicotine.…