Sometimes It Is Just a Cigar, But the Nicotine?
— Amounts vary even within brands
by Joyce Frieden, News Editor, MedPage Today June 1, 2017
SILVER SPRING, Md. — The amount of nicotine found in large cigars and cigarillos varies greatly, researchers said in a poster presentation here at the FDA Science Forum.
For large cigars, the nicotine content ranged from 18.10 mg for the Blunt Ville Natural Deluxe to 505 mg for the Romeo y Julieta 1875 Churchill. For cigarillos, the amount varied from 14 mg for Zig Zag Straight Up to 36.40 mg for Good Times Straight Natural, Lynn Hull, PhD, a pharmacologist at the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, and colleagues found.
“This study reveals some of the challenges in experimental cigar research and illustrates the need to characterize cigar products before using them in clinical studies,” the researchers wrote. “Continual monitoring of the physical and chemical properties would be useful to further understand these products’ toxicity, abuse potential, and impact on the public health.”
Although much research has been done about cigarettes, there is limited data on the physical and chemical properties of cigars, the investigators noted in their introduction. “Therefore, research on cigar properties may be useful to better understand these products.”
For their study, the researchers purchased 10 different brands of cigars and 10 cigarillos in August 2015; products were selected based on their market share and regional availability in the Baltimore area. All products were stored in their original packaging at ambient temperatures prior to analysis. In January 2016, a secondary analysis was conducted on two cigars and two cigarillos that had been purchased after the original batch, in order to determine within-brand, between-batch variability.
For each product, free nicotine content, free nicotine concentration, and percent free nicotine were calculated “based on nicotine content/concentration and tobacco pH using the Henderson-Hasselbalch equation with a pKa of 8.02 for nicotine.”
The nicotine concentration of the cigars varied from 6.8 mg/g to 28.6 mg/g, while that of cigarillos ranged from 4.8 mg/g to 12.0 mg/g, they found. The pH levels ranged from 5.9 to 7.4 in cigars and from 5.3 to 7.2 in cigarillos.
The cigar products’ size and weight didn’t necessarily correlate with the free nicotine in each product; as a result, “a basic analysis of cigar products may be essential before cigar use in clinical studies,” they concluded. In addition, because nicotine amounts vary within brands, “consumers smoking the same brand of cigar may unintentionally be exposed to varying doses of nicotine and potentially other smoke constituents.”Amounts vary even within brands
Blunts, Spliffs, and Joints: What to Know Before You Roll Up
The terms blunt, spliff, and joint are often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same. To make things a bit more complicated, pot lingo varies from place to place.
Here’s a look at what it all means in the United States.
Blunts are cigars that have had the tobacco removed and replaced with marijuana. They can also be rolled using tobacco leaf wrappers.
As for the name? It comes from the Phillies Blunt cigar brand.
According to various internet sources, blunts originated in New York as a method for smoking pot discreetly, among other things.
What to know
Here are some things to consider before you get out that tobacco leaf or hit the corner store for a blunt wrap:
- Blunts containa lotmore pot.Cigars are a lot bigger than the average joint, which means they can hold a lot more pot. Smoking an entire blunt is roughly the equivalent of smoking six joints.
- Cigars and their wrappers are highly toxic. Even if you remove the tobacco, high concentrations of cancer-causing nitrosamines and other toxins created during the fermentation process may remain. And because cigar wrappers are more porous than rolling papers, the burning is less complete, resulting in smoke that has higher concentrations of toxins.
- You’re inhaling harmful toxins. All smoke is harmful to lung health, no matter what you’re inhaling. According to the American Lung Association, marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking pot usually involves inhaling deeper and holding large amounts of unfiltered smoke for longer. This exposes you to even more irritants and toxins that damage your lungs and airways.
A spliff is a blend of cannabis and tobacco, usually in cigarette rolling papers.
The word spliff is West Indian and is said to be a take on the words “split” — as in split the difference between weed and tobacco — and “whiff,” referring to the smell of the smoke. Or, perhaps, referring to how adding tobacco masks the smell of the pot.
What to know
Adding tobacco means less pot, which is good, right? Not necessarily.
Both marijuana and tobacco smoke can damage your lungs and increase your risk for several serious conditions. Adding tobacco to marijuana just means you’re getting the damaging effects of tobacco, too.
Here’s what you need to know before getting spliffy with it:
- Smoking tobacco and weed together can increase your risk for addiction. There’s evidence that smoking marijuana with tobacco increases cannabis dependence symptoms. The two appear to balance out the negative symptoms caused by both. Smoked together, they also seem to enhance the enjoyable symptoms, such as relaxation. This makes a person less likely to notice the ill effects, and more likely to keep smoking.
- Unfiltered tobacco smoke increases your risk for lung cancer and death. A recent study found that people who smoke unfiltered cigarettes are twice as likely to die from lung cancer and 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than smokers of filtered cigarettes. A spliff may contain less tobacco than a cigarette, but it’s still unfiltered tobacco smoke nonetheless.
Joints are the simplest of the bunch. They’re just ground marijuana rolled in cigarette papers. Sometimes people roll them with a crutch, which is basically just a stiffer bit of paper to hold the weed in place.
What to know
Unlike spliffs and blunts, which contain tobacco, joints contain nothing but cannabis and the paper it’s rolled in. The upside to smoking joints is that you’re not exposing yourself to tobacco or nicotine.
Still, they’re not much better for you:
- Marijuana smoke can be just as harmful as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana irritates the lungs. People who smoke it often have the same breathing issues as tobacco smokers, such as chronic cough and frequent lung infections.
- Smoking marijuana may cause air pockets in the lungs. According to the American Lung Association, smoking weed has been linked to the development of large air bubbles in the lungs and air pockets between both lungs and the chest wall in young to middle-aged adults who smoke a lot of pot.
- Secondhand marijuana smoke may be more dangerous than directly inhaled smoke.Secondhand marijuana smoke contains a lot of the same toxins and carcinogens as directly inhaled smoke and may even contain more, according to some research.
You might argue that joints are better for you because there’s no tobacco in a joint, but the benefit is minimal.
There’s no safe way of smoking anything. Joints, spliffs, blunts, pipes, bongs — they all carry risks.A blunt can be several things, depending on who you ask. We'll take a look at what it usually refers to and how it compares to a joint or spliff. ]]>