Cigarette Smokers Versus Cousers of Cannabis and Cigarettes: Exposure to Toxicants

Ellen Meier, Ryan Vandrey, Nathan Rubin, Lauren R. Pacek, Joni A. Jensen, Eric C. Donny, Stephen S. Hecht, Steven G. Carmella, Sharon E. Murphy, Xianghua Luo, Irina Stepanov, Joshua Ikuemonisan, Herb Severson, Mustafa Al'absi, Dorothy K. Hatsukami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Cannabis and tobacco couse is common and could expose users to higher levels of toxicants. No studies have examined biomarkers of toxicant exposure in cousers of cannabis and cigarettes, compared with cigarette smokers (CS). AIMS AND METHODS: Adult daily CS were recruited from 10 US sites for a study of reduced nicotine cigarettes. In this analysis of baseline data, participants were categorized as either cousers of cannabis and tobacco (cousers; N = 167; urine positive for 11-nor-9-carboxy-Δ 9-tetrahydrocannnabinol and self-reported cannabis use ≥1×/week), or CS (N = 911; negative urine and no self-reported cannabis use). Participants who did not meet either definition (N = 172) were excluded. Self-reported tobacco and cannabis use and tobacco and/or combustion-related biomarkers of exposure were compared between groups. RESULTS: Compared to CS, cousers were younger (couser Mage = 38.96, SD = 13.01; CS Mage = 47.22, SD = 12.72; p < .001) and more likely to be male (cousers = 67.7%, CS = 51.9%, p < .001). There were no group differences in self-reported cigarettes/day, total nicotine equivalents, or breath carbon monoxide, but cousers had greater use of non-cigarette tobacco products. Compared to CS, cousers had higher concentrations of 3-hydroxypropylmercapturic acid, 2-cyanoethylmercapturic acid, S-phenylmercapturic acid, 3-hydroxy-1-methylpropylmercapturic acid (ps < .05), and phenanthrene tetraol (p < .001). No biomarkers were affected by number of cannabis use days/week or days since last cannabis use during baseline (ps > .05). CONCLUSIONS: Cousers had higher concentrations of biomarkers of exposure than CS, but similar number of cigarettes per day and nicotine exposure. Additional studies are needed to determine whether cannabis and/or alternative tobacco products are driving the increased toxicant exposure. IMPLICATIONS: Cousers of cannabis and tobacco appear to be exposed to greater levels of harmful chemicals (ie, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), but similar levels of nicotine as CS. It is unclear if the higher levels of toxicant exposure in cousers are due to cannabis use or the increased use of alternative tobacco products compared with CS. It is important for studies examining biomarkers of exposure among CS to account for cannabis use as it may have a significant impact on outcomes. Additionally, further research is needed examining exposure to harmful chemicals among cannabis users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1389
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine & tobacco research : official journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco
Volume22
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 16 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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