Medically Reviewed by
Jason Crawford

Article Last Updated on December 28, 2022

Each of us has a different lung capacity, and that also goes for marijuana smokers. If a coughing fit after smoking cannabis is a new thing to you, and you’re searching for ways to stop coughing while smoking, you came to the right place. Coughing is a natural response to smoke inhalation, and you’re more likely to experience it if you smoke cannabis regularly.

To learn why smoking cannabis causes you to cough, how it affects lung health and the risk of lung cancer, as well as how you can stop coughing as a result of smoking weed, read on. The seasoned weed smoker will probably know most of the tips mentioned below, although, for a first-time smoker, these tips might be extremely beneficial.

Why Do You Cough When Smoking Marijuana?

A number of irritating substances get into the airways when you smoke weed. Since the throat and lungs are lined with sensory nerves that send signals throughout the respiratory tract, you’ll instinctively cough once you inhale an irritant. That reaction produces a cough reflex to get rid of the irritating substance as a way to protect the lungs and the respiratory tract.

The same nervous response happens when you’re smoking marijuana. The smoke triggers a cough reflex by irritating the airways, and that is why most first-time cannabis users have a coughing fit.

How Does Cannabis Affect Your Lungs?

Coughing while smoking cannabis is a short-term effect, although there are other health risks as a result of cannabis consumption.

Smoking Cannabis and Bronchitis

Smoking cannabis affects the large airways (bronchi) that connect the trachea (windpipe) to the lungs. A 2013 review showed that smoking cannabis can increase your risk of chronic bronchitis. To ameliorate your condition, you need to stop smoking cannabis (or tobacco) at regular intervals.

Smoking Cannabis and Lung Cancer

A 2020 study revealed that cannabis smoke has 110 compounds with potentially toxic properties, out of which 69 are also found in tobacco smoke. Consequently, people are wondering whether smoking weed can be a cause of lung cancer. The research is mixed on whether or not cannabis smokers have a greater risk of developing lung cancer, although a 2013 study spanning over 40  years, concluded that smoking cannabis can double the risk of lung cancer.

Smoking Cannabis and Chronic Cough

Cannabis users who have developed chronic bronchitis have a persistent cough even when they’re not smoking. The cough can sometimes be accompanied by wheezing, which can decrease after you quit smoking weed.

How to Stop Coughing When Smoking Weed?

To minimize coughing after smoking cannabis, you can follow the tips mentioned below.

Taking Smaller Hits

To reduce the amount of smoke that enters the airways, you can try taking a smaller hit. That will not only decrease your coughing fits, but it will also make your marijuana smoking session more enjoyable. Pair this with inhaling normally, in order to prevent the smoke from getting stuck in your throat, which also causes coughing.

Don’t Hold the Smoke in for a Long Time 

To successfully take a hit of weed, your breathing should be as close to normal as possible. Holding the smoke in when you inhale won’t make you high faster, contrary to popular belief. The only thing that you’ll accomplish is distributing less oxygen to the brain which is why you’ll feel dizzy (this is not the high you get from weed). If you’re thinking about how you should breathe, try breathing with the 4-2-4 method (4 seconds inhale, followed by holding your breath for 2 seconds, followed by a 4 second exhale).

Exhale Normally

The exhale shouldn’t differ from your natural breathing so exhale as softly and gently as you inhale. Coughing mostly happens as a result of holding the smoke for too long.

Inhale Fresh Air

Inhale fresh oxygen together with cannabis smoke when you’re taking your hit. Having natural airflow will ensure that you’re oxygenating your body as you’re smoking cannabis.

Drink Your Water

Make sure that you drink a good amount of water before, during, and after your weed session. Enough water will prevent dehydration, but it will also minimize coughing and ease the irritation in your throat.

Purchasing High-Quality Cannabis

The quality of your weed is essential if you want to have a proper marijuana smoking session. Marijuana sold on the black market can contain dangerous pesticides and chemicals which can be harsh on the throat. Your best option is to buy higher quality marijuana from a licensed dispensary. Dispensaries need to meet the regulations issued by the FDA, so their products are tested for chemicals and toxins.

Trying Alternative Weed Consumption Methods

The effects of marijuana on the throat are different depending on the consumption methods. While some people smoke all the time and never cough, others cough each time they take a hit of weed. If you find yourself in the latter category, you should probably try other weed products that are available on the market. While no products come without risks or side effects, you can find ones that don’t make you cough. 

One option is to try vaping and purchase a vaporizer (vape pen) from your local dispensary. The vape is less harsh compared to marijuana smoke, so you’re less likely to cough after using them. Another option is to try a bong or a percolator which also works by mixing the marijuana vapor with water and give a more pleasant smoking experience. And finally, you can try a cannabis edible, or a tincture, which poses no risk of coughing.

Soothing Your Throat After Smoking Weed

To soothe your throat after smoking weed, you can try some of the following methods:

  1. Sipping water to decrease the dryness in your throat.
  2. Gargling salt water is also beneficial for relieving the discomfort and pain in the throat. Try gargling a solution of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 4 to 8 ounces of warm water.
  3. Drinking warm fluids like herbal tea blends is a perfect way to relieve throat soreness.
  4. Eating a hard candy or sucking on a lozenge can increase saliva production, and the ingredients in the lozenge can ease your cough.
  5. Eating ice cream can also help you with a dry throat.
  6. Turning your humidifier on will reduce the dry air in your room, which can only worsen the dry feeling in your throat.
  7. If all else fails, you will benefit from taking a little break (and stop smoking cannabis) until you feel better.


Inhaling cannabis smoke produces a cough reflex in a lot of cannabis users. That’s the body’s natural way of protecting itself against irritating substances, and it can happen when you inhale any kind of smoke. 

Current research doesn’t have a firm conclusion when it comes to smoking cannabis and long-term lung damage, meaning it’s still unclear whether smoking weed can increase the risk of lung cancer. However, smoking weed can result in you getting chronic bronchitis accompanied by coughing, phlegm, and wheezing. This condition is improved by quitting cannabis. 

To make sure you don’t get into a coughing fit when you’re smoking your favorite THC and CBD cannabinoid blend of weed, make sure that you’re inhaling and exhaling properly, you take smaller hits, and keep yourself hydrated. And if smoking marijuana isn’t your cup of tea, change the cannabis consumption method and try dabs, bongs, vape pens, or edibles.

A passionate advocate for the benefits of cannabis. Fraser Horton, who has a background in botany and a strong love of nature, has spent years researching how cannabis affects the body and mind. He established Leaf Nation in 2020, where he has devoted himself to educating people about the legalisation of marijuana and its safe and responsible use. Fraser is committed to highlighting cannabis’ potential for improving wellness and working to dispel the stigma associated with its use.


The information presented on this page is provided as a public service to aid in education and is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed here. In no event shall Leaf Nation be held reliable for any injury, loss or damage that could happen if using or abusing drugs.