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Tobacco and Alcohol Causing More Global Harm Than Illegal Drugs, Study Finds

Tobacco and Alcohol Causing More Global Harm Than Illegal Drugs, Study Finds

May 16, 2018

While cannabis industry always takes the hit of strict legislation and erroneous coverage from the media for its harmful effects, the real culprits have always been tobacco and alcohol industry. Both of these industries enjoy full support from governments and acceptance from the society. 

A new finding once again substantiates how life-threatening worldwide alcohol and tobacco consumptions are. The Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) has gathered data from WHO, UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime and other relevant organizations to draw some inferences regarding the detrimental health consequences of the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and other illegal drugs. 

The SSA report claims that tobacco and alcohol jointly cost more life years and increase the mortality rates as compared to illicit drugs including cannabis. The cost of life years formulated by the group takes into account the time affected people spend with diseases caused by tobacco and alcohol use (respiratory diseases, heart complications, liver diseases, and cancers etc.). 

Tobacco With the Highest Contribution to Mortality Rates  

Tobacco With the Highest Contribution to Mortality Rates

Tobacco With the Highest Contribution to Mortality Rates - Image powered by Imperial.ac.uk

The report suggests that tobacco is the most deadly substance among all the studied addictive substances. It causes 110.7 deaths per 100,000 people. While alcohol kills 33 people out of 100,000 every year. In contrast, the mortality rate associated with the use of illicit drugs is considerably low. All of them together cause 6.9 deaths per 100,000 people every year.  

Cost of Years  

Regarding the life years affected by the use of addictive substances, tobacco again tops the chart. It accounts for whopping 170 million affected life years. Alcohol cost 85 million years while illicit drugs are trailing behind with the cost of 27.8 million years. 

Europe Suffers the Most  

Europe Suffers the Most

Europe Suffers the Most - Image powered by Newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu

Europeans are the most affected by the use of illicit drugs and alcohol. Mortality rates and cost of life years attributed to the use of alcohol and drugs are really high among Europeans. Professor Robert West is one of the co-authors of the report and teaches at University College London. He is concerned with the fact that the supposedly civilized and developed part of the world is doing worse than developing countries on the issue of substance abuse.  

This is not the first report that has shown that use of alcohol and tobacco contributes to the losses of life years. It’s worth noting that these industries didn’t face any consequences and restrictions even after the publication of extensive research on the topic.  

For instance, tobacco products (generally cigarettes) remain the most easily available item all over the world.  Similarly, alcohol business is a multi-billion economy. Easy accessibility of these products has added insult to injury.  

It is the hypocrisy of the decision-makers all over the world who are deliberately ignoring the extent of health damage tobacco and alcohol are causing to the inhabitants of earth as compared to other illegal drugs. We are not advocating the use of any illicit drug here, but just asking to treat every life-threatening substance with the same set of rules.  

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