National Non-Smoking Week is Canada’s response to long-held concerns over the health risks of smoking.
But this year, the Middlesex London Health Unit is striving for a lesser known message: that smoke from cannabis and hookahs are just as dangerous as cigarettes.
Linda Stobo, Program Manager of the Health Unit’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control, warns that the public may not know about these silent killers.
However, Stobo does admit that other smoke producers aren’t as tested as cigarettes.
“There just hasn’t been as many studies regarding the long term exposure to cannabis smoke,” says Stobo. “And because marijuana is a controlled substance, we haven’t had the population level of exposure to marijuana smoke that we’ve had with tobacco smoke.”
That being said, Stobo points out that there are some dangerous common factors that can’t be ignored.
“You are still inhaling a combustion. You are burning a substance and you are inhaling the product that the burning creates,” Stobo says. “Those are known to cause health problems.”
Stobo explains that, while these smoking alternatives seem innocent, it’s what is on the inside that counts.
“We really wanted to make sure that we used National Non-Smoking Week as an opportunity for us to remind people that tobacco and cannabis smoke has shown to have 33 known cancer causing chemicals in common.”
Stobo and the Health Unit are hoping that this week’s national campaign, combined with year round efforts to educate, will inform the public on the risks associated with all manner of combustion smoke inhalation.