Mary Altaffer/AP Photograph A man smokes marijuana at a Spleef NYC canna-cocktail party in New York. As more says make it legal to smoke marijuana, some federal government officials, researchers and others worry what that might expect for among the country"s greatest public health successes: curbing cigarette smoking. 

As even more states make it legal to smoke marijuana, some federal government officials, researchers and also others concern what that might mean for one of the country"s greatest public wellness successes: curbing cigarette smoking cigarettes.

You are watching: Why are cigarettes legal but not weed

Though there are notable differences in health and wellness study findings on tobacco and marijuana, the juxtaposition strikes some as jarring after generations of Americans have actually gained the message that cigarette smoking endangers their wellness.

"We"re trying to sheight people from smoking cigarettes all kinds of things. Why execute you desire to legalize marijuana?" a New York City councilguy, Republideserve to Peter Koo, asked at a current city hearing around the state"s potential legalization of so-referred to as recreational pot use.

Marijuana supporters say there"s no comparikid in between joints and tobacco cigarettes. A sweeping federal assessment of marijuana research discovered the lung-health threats of smoking cigarettes weed show up "reasonably small" and also "far reduced than those of smoking tobacco," the peak cause of preventable fatality in the U.S.

Unprefer for cigarettes, there"s proof of certain health benefits from marijuana, such as easing chronic pain. And marijuana deserve to be supplied without smoking cigarettes it. Many says currently have actually legal clinical pot programs; 10 claims and also the District of Columbia have apconfirmed recreational usage.

"They"re various commodities, and also they must be treated in different ways," claims Mason Tvert, a spokesguy for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.

At the exact same time, research studies have shown crossover between marijuana and tobacco usage. And while smoking cigarettes cannabis may be less dangerous than tobacco to lung health, pot doesn"t gain an completely clean slate.

Some health and wellness officials and also anti-cigarette smoking activists likewise issue about inserting legal marijuana right into the growing human being of vaping, offered uncertainties around the smoking cigarettes alternative"s permanent effects.

Here"s a look at the worries, science and also perspectives:

Smoking Pot Vs. Tobacco

While cigarette cigarette smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer, some of clinical proof argues there"s no attach between marijuana cigarette smoking and also lung cancer. That"s according to a 2017 federal report that rounded up almost two years of researches on marijuana, research that"s been limited by the federal government"s classification of marijuana as a controlled substance choose heroin.

While cigarette smoking cigarettes is a major cause of heart illness, the report concluded it"s unclear whether marijuana usage is connected through heart strikes or strokes.

But there"s solid evidence linking irreversible cannabis smoking cigarettes to worse coughs and even more constant bouts of chronic bronchitis, according to the report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The report likewise looked at various other results, finding a mix of feasible risks, upsides and unknowns. For example, the report said marijuana have the right to ease chemotherapy-associated nausea and adults" chronic pain however also found proof the drug is connected to occurring schizophrenia and obtaining in website traffic crashes.

In recent weeks, researches have actually echoed concerns about high-potency pot and psychosis and also documented a climb in marijuana-associated emergency room visits after legalization in Coloracarry out.

Tobacco and also marijuana usage have the right to also go together. Blunts — marijuana in a cigar wrapper that has tobacco leaves — have gained popularity. And studies have actually found more cigarette smokers have used pot, and the other means about, compared to nonsmokers.

"One substance reinpressures the usage of the various other, and also vice versa, which deserve to escalate a route to addiction," states Dr. Sterling McPherson, a College of Washington clinical professor studying marijuana and tobacco usage among teenagers.

The National Academies report found pot use most likely increases the hazard of dependence on other substances, including tobacco.

To some public health officials, it renders sense to legalize marijuana and put some guardrails around it.

"For tobacco, we recognize that it"s inherently dangerous and that there is no safe amount of tobacco to use," claims New York City Health Department drug policy analyst Rebecca Giglio. Whereas with marijuana, "we watch this as an chance to attend to the harms of criminalization while likewise regulating cannabis."

But wellness department opinions vary, even within the exact same state: New York"s Association of County Health Officials opposes legalizing recreational weed.

So What About Vaping?

Vaping — heating a solution right into a vapor and inhaling it — has actually been pitched as a safer different to cigarette smoking.

Experts have shelp vaping pot is more than likely much less harmful to the lungs than smoking cigarettes it, though there"s little bit research on the health results over time, and also they problem about its potency when vaped.

The Amerihave the right to Lung Association is pertained to that vaping will certainly eventually prove damaging to lung wellness and also is alarmed about a surge in underage e-cigarette usage. And adding legal marijuana to the image "just renders it a much more complicated worry," claims Erika Sward, an assistant vice president.

Others, though, think policymakers should check out vaping as a fairly safe method to usage pot.

"I would certainly say the dangers are going to be less through that create of usage," states Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan health policy professor that co-created a 2017 piece calling for recreational marijuana programs to enable just nonsmokable forms of the drug.

At the same time, some local governments have adjusted public smoking bans to cover both vaping and also pot. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors tweaked its prohibition just last month.

Two Views

As a previous cigarette smoker, New Yorker Gary Smith is dismayed that his residence state might OK smoking cigarettes pot.

He knows research hasn"t tied cigarette smoking marijuana to lung cancer, which eliminated 3 cigarette smokers in his family members and struck him twenty years after he quit; he"s been treated. But he fears the respiratory threats of marijuana smoking cigarettes aren"t totally known.

"It"s crazy that the government, in order to raise (revenue from) taxes, they"re permitting world to suck this stuff into your lungs," says Smith, 78, an accountant from Island Park.

Hawaii doctor and state Rep. Ricdifficult Creagan feels no less strongly around cigarettes. The ex-smoker and Democrat from Naalehu this year unefficiently proposed all but banning them by increasing the legal age to 100.

At the same time, he"d like Hawaii to legalize recreational marijuana, an concept that fizzled in the state Legislature this year.

See more: Please Help Me!!! Participants In A Formal Discussion Use Language That Is .

Creagan, 73, thinks pot benefits people"s health more than it dangers their health, and he expects non-cigarette smoking choices will certainly minimize the dangers. Plus, he figures legal marijuana can rearea cigarette taxes revenue sooner or later.