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How Tobacco and Cannabis Smoking Effects Human Physiology

Maddela VS*

Department of Chemical Engineering, Center for Bio-Technology ,Andhra University College of Engineering, Maddelapalem, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India

Corresponding Author:
Maddela VS
B.Tech. Bio-Technology
Department of Chemical Engineering
Andhra University College of Engineering
Maddelapalem, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
Tel: 9177989482
E-mail: [email protected]

Received: 23-07-2016; Revised: 25-08-2016; Accepted: 26-08-2016; Published: 31-08-2016

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Apart from the recreational and medical use, Tobacco and Cannabis are nowadays widely being abused for getting high and temporary relaxation. Lungs are most badly effected organs in the patients with heavy use of tobacco and cannabis through smoking. The alkaloids in tobacco and cannabinoids in cannabis are responsible for the psychological and physiological effects of the smoking tobacco and cannabis. Other than lungs, most of the other organs in the body are affected by the abuse of these substances. Over a course of time, in long term smokers the physiological effects of the smoking these plant parts brings out gradual changes in the individual body parts and organ systems which eventually result in developing some cumulative changes in the body in regular functioning. These effects are widely varied under influence of various external factors ranging from geographical conditions, food habits, socio-economic and legal conditions of the environment the person living in. In this review we highlight the specific effects of smoking tobacco and cannabis on the physiology of human body. Various studies on the effects of tobacco and cannabis have revealed the detailed analysis and statistics of the micro level changes in the morphology and physiology of different systems of the body. These studies on the smokers of different plant material also revealed the details


Tobacco, Marijuana, Smoking, Physiology

Smoking Tobacco and Cannabis

Historically tobacco and cannabis are the products of good value in trade and commerce for these are the most widely used substances by humans throughout the world for recreational and medicinal uses [1-3]. The early reports of smoking dates back to 5000–3000 BC roughly and mostly used in religious and social rituals in various civilizations. The word smoking refers to the act of burning the plant part especially leaves and stems to inhale the smoke accumulating from the combustion reaction into the lungs through mouth and releasing it. Various chemical substances along with carbon content in the cells of these plant parts will undergo series of changes by the combustion reaction [4-11]. The smoke people inhale while smoking contains various chemical substances which effect the physiological functioning of human body by altering the functioning of various organs systems of the human body like respiratory, endocrine, digestive, cardio vascular, reproductive and nervous systems including the brain.


Tobacco is the most widely used plant substance for smoking. Tobacco, being first cultivated in South Americas and spread widely in Europe and rest of the world thereafter, played a key role in social, political and economic conditions of the human populations since times. The species most commonly used for smoking is Nicotiana tabacum, is a member of solanaceae family. Studying the adverse effects of tobacco smoking on the body especially lungs, the German scientists reported and started the first ever anti-smoking campaign in the modern world. Later many studies have clearly proven the direct and indirect relationship between Tobacco smoking and various types of cancers [12-19]. From mid-1950 the emphasis on negative effects of smoking has increased and pressured to take the political action against the practise. Tobacco is consumed in different forms and modes. The following are the different

Methods of Tobacco Smoking


Beedis are the Indian version of cigarettes made with no filters and hand rolled out of Tendu leaf (Piliostigma racemosum) and processed tobacco. These flakes are thin, folded inside at the smoking end (to make it partly stop the direct entry of smoke inside) and tied with a string from outside to hold the whole thing up.


Cigars are firmly moved groups of dried and matured tobacco which are touched off with the goal that smoke might be drawn into the smoker's mouth. They are by and large not breathed in view of the high alkalinity of the smoke, which can rapidly get to be disturbing to the trachea and lungs. The pervasiveness of cigar smoking changes relying upon area, authentic period, and populace reviewed and commonness gauges differ to some degree contingent upon the study technique. The United States is the top expending nation by a long shot, trailed by Germany and the United Kingdom; the US and Western Europe represent around 75% of cigar deals worldwide [20-35]. As of 2005 it is evaluated that 4.3% of men and 0.3% of ladies smoke cigar in the USA.


Cigarettes, French for "little stogie", are an item devoured through smoking and fabricated out of cured and finely cut tobacco leaves and reconstituted tobacco, regularly consolidated with different added substances, which are then rolled or stuffed into a paper-wrapped cylinder. Cigarettes are touched off and breathed in, more often than not through a cellulose acetic acid derivation channel, into the mouth and lungs. Albeit once in a while rehearsed, cigarettes can likewise be expended rectally by breathing in the smoke into the mouth and pushing it through a funnel into the rectum.


Hookahs are a solitary or multi-stemmed (regularly glass-based) water funnel for smoking. Originated first in India and wide spread in Asia and middle-east. The hookah was an image of pride and respect for the landowners, lords and other such high class individuals [36-48]. Presently, the hookah has increased gigantic ubiquity, particularly in the Middle East. A hookah works by water filtration and aberrant warmth. It can be utilized for smoking home grown organic products, tobacco or cannabis [47-72].


Kretek are cigarettes made with a perplexing mix of tobacco, cloves and an enhancing "sauce". It was initially presented in the 1880s in Kudus, Java, to convey the restorative eugenol of cloves to the lungs. The quality and assortment of tobacco assume an essential part in kretek creation, from which kretek can contain more than 30 sorts of tobacco. Minced dried clove buds weighing around 1/3 of the tobacco mix are added to include enhancing. In 2004 the United States precluded cigarettes from having a "describing flavour" of specific fixings other than tobacco and menthol, along these lines expelling kretek from being delegated cigarettes.

Passive smoking

Uninvolved smoking is the generally automatic utilization of smoked tobacco. Second-hand smoke (SHS) is the utilization where the smoldering end is available, ecological tobacco smoke (ETS) or third-hand smoke is the utilization of the smoke that remaining parts after the blazing end has been stifled. On account of its apparent negative ramifications, this type of utilization has assumed a focal part in the control of tobacco items.

Pipe smoking

ordinarily comprises of a little chamber (the dish) for the burning of the tobacco to be smoked and a dainty stem (shank) that finishes in a mouthpiece (the bit). Destroyed bits of tobacco are set into the chamber and lighted. Tobaccos for smoking in channels are regularly precisely treated and mixed to accomplish flavour subtleties not accessible in other tobacco items.


Roll-Your-Own or hand-moved cigarettes, regularly called "rollies", "cigi" or "Move ups", are extremely mainstream especially in European nations and the UK. These are set up from free tobacco, cigarette papers, and channels all purchased independently. They are generally much less expensive than instant cigarettes and little contraptions can be purchased making the procedure simpler.


A vaporizer is a gadget used to sublimate the dynamic elements of plant material. As opposed to blazing the herb, which creates possibly chafing, poisonous or cancer-causing by-items; a vaporizer warms the material in a halfway vacuum so that the dynamic mixes contained in the plant bubble off into a vapour. This strategy is frequently best when medicinally administrating.

The dynamic substances in tobacco, particularly cigarettes, are regulated by smoldering the leaves and breathing in the vaporized gas that comes out. This rapidly and successfully conveys substances into the circulatory system by ingestion through the alveoli in the lungs. The lungs contain somewhere in the range of 300 million alveoli, which adds up to a surface territory of more than 70 m2 (about the span of a tennis court). This technique is not totally productive as not the greater part of the smoke will be breathed in, and some measure of the dynamic substances will be lost during the time spent burning, pyrolysis. Pipe and Cigar smoke are not breathed in due to its high alkalinity, which are bothering to the trachea and lungs. In any case, in light of its higher alkalinity (pH 8.5) contrasted with tobacco smoke (pH 5.3), non-ionized nicotine is all the more promptly consumed through the mucous layers in the mouth [73-84]. Nicotine assimilation from stooge and funnel, in any case, is a great deal not as much as that from cigarettes. Nicotine and cocaine are studied initiate comparative examples of neurons, which underpins the presence of regular substrates among these drugs.

The breathed in nicotine copies nicotinic acetylcholine which when bound to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors keeps the reuptake of acetylcholine in this manner expanding that neurotransmitter in those ranges of the body. These nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are situated in the focal sensory system and at the nerve-muscle intersection of skeletal muscles; whose movement builds heart rate, alertness, and quicker response times. Nicotine acetylcholine incitement is not specifically addictive [85-92]. Be that as it may, since dopamine-discharging neurons are bottomless on nicotine receptors, dopamine is discharged; and, in the core accumbens, dopamine is connected with inspiration bringing about fortifying behaviour. Dopamine increment, in the prefrontal cortex, may likewise expand working memory.

At the point when tobacco is smoked, the greater part of the nicotine is pyrolyzed. There is likewise a development of harmane (a MAO inhibitor) from the acetaldehyde in tobacco smoke. This may assume a part in nicotine dependence, by encouraging a dopamine discharge in the core accumbens as a reaction to nicotine stimuli. Using rodent thinks about, withdrawal after rehashed introduction to nicotine results in less responsive core accumbens cells, which produce dopamine in charge of reinforcement.


Cannabis, produced from the hemp plant, is employed in 3 forms: herbal cannabis, the dried leaves and flowering first-rate, additionally referred to as ‘cannabis,’ ganja,’ or ‘weed,’ among others; cannabin, the ironed secretions of the plant, referred to as ‘hashish’ or ‘charash;’ and cannabis oil, a mix ensuing from distillation or extraction of active ingredients of the plant. Herbal cannabis is that the cannabis product used most often in much of the world, whereas cannabin is primarily utilized in Europe. Cannabis oil is a smaller amount wide used, accounting for under zero.05% of cannabis seizures in 2009 [93-118].

Cannabis is created in nearly each country worldwide, and is that the most generally created illicit drug. the very best levels of cannabis herb production – around twenty fifth of world production – ensue in Africa and African nation. North and South America follow, every to blame for twenty third of worldwide production of cannabis herb. Indoor production of cannabis herb is rising, as there's a lower probability of detection and growers area unit able to harvest multiple times per annum, and is targeted in North America, Europe, and Oceana. Cannabis herb remains the foremost trafficked illicit drug within the world in terms of volume and geographic unfolds. North America accounts for seventieth of world seizures, notably targeted in Mexico and also the us, followed by Africa (11%) and South America (10%). cannabin is second to cannabis herb in terms of volume of trafficking. Afghanistan has recently emerged as a significant producer of cannabin, reordering Morocco in terms of volume, and cannabis has become a rival to poppy as a remunerative crop for farmers. Nearly all cannabin seizures (95%) transpire in Europe, the centre East, Southwest Asia, and geographic region.

The plant contains the psychoactive chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and alternative Related compounds. Extracts with high amounts of THC also can be made up of the cannabis plant.

Marijuana is that the most typically used illicit drug within the US. Its use is widespread among adolescents. in keeping with a yearly survey of middle and high school students, rates of marijuana use have steady within the past few years when many years of increase. However, the quantity of adolescents World Health Organization believe marijuana use is risky is decreasing.

Although several have needed the nationwide group action of marijuana to treat medical conditions, the scientific proof so far isn't sufficient for the marijuana plant to achieve U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, for 2 main reasons. First, there haven't been enough clinical trials showing that marijuana’s edges outweigh its health risks. The Food and Drug Administration needs rigorously conducted studies in giant numbers of patients (hundreds to thousands) to accurately assess the advantages and risks of a possible medication. Second, to be thought-about legitimate drugs, a substance should have well-defined and measureable ingredients that area unit consistent from one unit to future (such as a pill or injection). This consistency permits doctors to see the dose and frequency. Because the marijuana plant contains many chemical compounds that will have completely different effects which vary from plant to plant, its use as a drugs is troublesome to guage.

However, THC-based medicine to treat pain and nausea area unit already Food and Drug Administration approved and prescribed. Scientists still investigate the healthful properties of cannabinoids—or the individual parts of the marijuana plant (e.g. THC, CBD). The therapeutic potential lies in developing medications based mostly upon cannabinoids that have therapeutic worth however with limited-to-no risk for addiction, reminiscent of CBD.

Short term effects

When someone smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the blood. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and alternative organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC a lot of slowly once the person chuck or drinks it. Therein case, the user usually feels the results when half-hour to one hour. THC acts on specific neuron receptors that commonly react to natural THC-like chemicals within the brain. These natural chemicals play a job in traditional brain development and performance. Marijuana overactivates elements of the brain that contain the very best range of those receptors. This causes the "high" that users feel. Alternative effects include:

• altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)

• altered sense of your time

• Changes in mood

• impaired body movement

• Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving

• impaired memory

Marijuana additionally affects brain development. Once marijuana users begin mistreatment as teenagers, the drug might scale back thinking, memory, and learning functions and have an effect on however the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions.

Marijuana’s effects on these talents might last an extended time or maybe be permanent. parenthetically, a study showed that individuals UN agency started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens And had an current cannabis use disorder lost a mean of eight ratio points between ages thirteen and thirty eight. The lost mental talents didn't totally come in people who quit marijuana as adults. People who started smoking marijuana as adults didn't show notable ratio declines. Marijuana use might have a good vary of effects, each physical and mental.

• Breathing issues. Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and frequent marijuana smokers will have constant respiration issues that tobacco smokers have. These issues embrace daily cough and phlegm, a lot of frequent respiratory organ malady, and a better risk of respiratory organ infections. Researchers still don't apprehend whether or not marijuana smokers have a better risk for carcinoma.

• Increased pulse rate. Marijuana raises pulse rate for up to three hours when smoking. This result might increase the prospect of coronary failure. Older individuals and people with heart issues could also be at higher risk

• Problems great development throughout and when gestation. Marijuana use throughout gestation is joined to enlarged risk of each brain and activity issues in babies. If a pregnant girl uses marijuana, the drug might have an effect on bound developing elements of the fetus’s brain. Ensuing challenges for the kid might embrace issues attentively, memory, and problem-solving. to boot, some analysis suggests that moderate amounts of THC square measure excreted into the breast milk of nursing mothers. the results on a baby’s developing brain square measure still unknown.

Mental effects

• Long-term marijuana use has been joined to mental disease in some users, such as:

• Temporary hallucinations-sensations and pictures that appear real tho' they're not

• Temporary paranoia-extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

• worsening symptoms in patients with schizophrenic disorder (a severe psychological disorder with symptoms like hallucinations, paranoia, and fucked-up thinking)

Marijuana use has additionally been joined to alternative psychological state issues, like depression, anxiety, and dangerous thoughts among teens. However, study findings are mixed. Compared to nonusers, significant marijuana users a lot of usually report the following:

• Lower life satisfaction

• Poorer psychological state

• Poorer physical health

• More relationship issues

Users additionally report less educational and career success. Parenthetically, marijuana use is joined to a better probability of throwing in the towel of faculty (Table 1). it's additionally joined to a lot of job absences, accidents, and injuries.

Name Description
Acapulco gold Marijuana from S.W. Mexico; marijuana
Ace Marijuana cigarette; PCP
Airhead Marijuana user
Are you anywhere? Do you use marijuana?
Blunt Marijuana inside a cigar; cocaine and marijuana inside a cigar
Bogart a joint Salivate on a marijuana cigarette; refuse to share
Candy blunt Blunts dipped in cough syrup
Cartucho (Spanish) Package of marijuana cigarettes
Chillum An object used to smoke opium, hashish, and marijuana
Dagga Marijuana from South Africa

Table 1: Different words used by the cannabis smokers to refer the marijuana and related substances.

Physiological Effects

Central Nervous System

One of the ingredients in tobacco may be a mood-altering drug referred to as vasoconstrictor. vasoconstrictor reaches the brain in precisely seconds. It’s a central system stimulant, thus it makes the smoker feel additional energized for a bit whereas. As that impact subsides, they feel tired and crave additional. vasoconstrictor is habit forming. Smoking will increase risk of degeneration, cataracts, and poor visual sense. It may also weaken your sense of style and sense of smell, thus food might decrease pleasant. chassis contains a stress internal secretion referred to as glucocorticoid, that lowers the results of vasoconstrictor. If you’re below loads of stress, you’ll want additional vasoconstrictor to urge a similar impact. Physical withdrawal from smoking will impair your psychological feature functioning and create feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal may also cause headaches and sleep issues.

Respiratory System

When folks inhale smoke, they're taking in substances which will harm the lungs. Over time, their lungs lose their ability to filter harmful chemicals. Coughing can’t filter the toxins sufficiently, thus these toxins get treed within the lungs. Smokers have a better risk of metabolism infections, colds, and flu. During a condition known as respiratory disease, the air sacs in your lungs square measure destroyed. In bronchitis, the liner of the tubes of the lungs becomes inflamed. Over time, smokers square measure at redoubled risk of developing these kinds of chronic preventative pneumonic malady (COPD). Semi-permanent smokers also are at redoubled risk of carcinoma. Withdrawal from tobacco product will cause temporary congestion and metabolism pain as your lungs begin to filter. Kids whose folks smoke square measure additional liable to coughing, wheezing and respiratory illness attacks than kids whose folks don’t. They additionally tend to possess additional ear infections. Kids of smokers have higher rates of respiratory disease and respiratory disorder.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking damages your entire circulatory system. Once plant toxin hits your body, it offers your blood glucose a lift. Plant toxin causes blood vessels to tighten, that restricts the flow of blood (peripheral artery disease). Smoking lowers sensible cholesterin levels and raises force per unit area, which might lead to stretching of the arteries and a buildup of unhealthy cholesterin (atherosclerosis). Smoking raises the danger of forming blood clots. Blood clots and weakened blood vessels within the brain increase a smoker’s risk of stroke. Smokers WHO have heart bypass surgery square measure at redoubled risk of continual coronary cardiovascular disease. Within the long run, smokers square measure at larger risk of blood cancer (leukemia). There’s a risk to non-smokers, too. Respiratory second hand smoke has a right away impact on the circulatory system. Exposure to secondhand smoke will increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and coronary cardiovascular disease.

Skin, Hair and Nails (Integumentary System)

Some of the additional obvious signs of smoking involve the skin. The substances in tobacco smoke truly amendment the structure of your skin. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles and premature aging. Your fingernails and therefore the skin on your fingers could have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Smokers sometimes develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth. Hair holds on to the smell of tobacco long when you set your fag out. It even clings to non-smokers.

Digestive System

Smokers square measure at nice risk of developing oral issues. Tobacco use will cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or infection (periodontitis). These issues will result in dental caries, tooth loss, and unhealthy breath. Smoking additionally will increase risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx and muscular structure. Smokers have higher rates of excretory organ cancer and carcinoma. Even smoke smokers WHO don’t inhale square measure at redoubled risk of mouth cancer. Smoking additionally has a control on hypoglycaemic agent, creating it additional seemingly that you’ll develop hypoglycaemic agent resistance. That puts you at redoubled risk of kind two polygenic diseases. Once it involves polygenic disease, smokers tend to develop complications at a quicker rate than non-smokers. Smoking additionally depresses craving, thus you will not be obtaining all the nutrients your body wants. Withdrawal from tobacco product will cause nausea.

Sexuality and Genital System

Restricted blood flow will have an effect on a man’s ability to urge an erection. Each men and ladies WHO smoke could have issue achieving consummation and square measure at higher risk of physiological state. Ladies WHO smoke could expertise biological time at associate earlier age than non-smoking ladies. Smoking will increase a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

Smokers’ are more likely to acquire additional complications of gestation, as well as miscarriage, issues with the placenta, and premature delivery. Pregnant mothers WHO square measure exposed to second-hand smoke also are additional seemingly to possess a baby with low birth weight. Babies born to mothers WHO smoke whereas pregnant square measure at larger risk of low birth weight, birth defects, and fulminant crib death syndrome (SIDS). New-borns WHO breathe second hand smoke suffer additional ear infections and respiratory illness attacks.


Nicotine Replacement

Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) love patches, gums, and inhalers deliver to your body the plant toxin it's desire during an abundantly safer type than cigarettes. Over time, you cut back the number of plant toxin you consume till you have got hopefully checked your cravings entirely.

Smoking-Cessation Medications

Prescription drugs alter chemicals in your brain so as to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. With a number of these medications, you are able to at the same time use plant toxin replacement therapies sort of a patch or gum to ease severe withdrawal symptoms. Some even allow you to continue smoking at the start of the program.

Alternative Therapies

Procedures like mental state, stylostixis, and meditation will address a number of the mental and physical habits you have got developed around cigarettes. Some people that have quit use these therapies alone, whereas others use them in conjunction with medicines or plant toxin replacements.


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