Tobacco and alcohol more disastrous than all illegal drugs combined?

Alcohol and tobacco endanger the health of many people

The use of illegal drugs is unfortunately widespread, but it also damages the human body considerably. However, the negative effects on general health are not as severe as those of alcohol and tobacco. Researchers have now found that alcohol and tobacco are by far the greatest threat to human health around the world.

In their current investigation, the scientists found that alcohol and tobacco are by far the greatest burden on human health, far ahead of all illegal drugs. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Addiction".

Alcohol and smoking kill more people than drugs

Global statistics on alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use show that a quarter of a billion hours of healthy lives are lost every year from smoking and drinking, the experts say. This is ten times more hours than the consumption of illegal drugs.

One in seven adults worldwide smokes

The study examined the effects of tobacco, alcohol and drugs on cancer, respiratory or cardiovascular disease. Deaths caused by overdoses were also considered. The extreme harm caused by smoking and alcohol is largely due to the high prevalence, say the authors of the study. One in seven adults worldwide smoke, which causes the greatest damage to the health of the population. About every fifth person consumes alcohol.

Smoking causes most deaths

It was also found that the death rate per 100,000 people smoking was three times higher (110.7 deaths) than that of alcohol consumption (33 deaths). Illegal drugs, on the other hand, accounted for only 6.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Smoking and alcohol cause far more deaths than illicit drug use, says study author Professor Robert West from University College London.

People in Europe drink most alcohol

The research also found that Europe is the world leader in these bad habits. In 2015, the regions with the highest alcohol consumption were in Eastern (11.98 liters), Central (11.61 liters) and Western Europe (11.09 liters). The information is the amount of pure alcohol consumed per person over the age of 15. In comparison, the global average of pure alcohol consumption is 6.42 liters.

Eastern Europe has the most smokers

The regions mentioned also had the highest rates of smoking people, with Eastern Europe leading the population with 24.2 percent smokers. The lowest rate of smoking people was in western Africa (4.7 percent), while North Africa and the Middle East had the lowest alcohol consumption per capita at 0.91 liters.

Results should be a wake-up call for people

People in the western world see themselves as bastions of civilization, but in this particular area they are worse off than developing countries, said Professor West. In his opinion, the results of the investigation should be a kind of wake-up call for these countries. If the effects of alcohol on mortality are to be reduced, the cultural normality of alcohol consumption needs to be addressed, the researchers add.

United States suffers from opioid epidemic

Fortunately, illicit drug use was far less common. Globally, it is estimated that less than one in 20 people used cannabis last year, while amphetamines, opioids, and cocaine use are significantly lower. There is a true opioid epidemic in the U.S. and Canada, which caused 42,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016 alone. These countries also have the highest rates of cannabis and cocaine addiction. In contrast, people in Australia and New Zealand were the largest consumers of amphetamines. Last year, almost 500 out of 100,000 people there used these drugs, the doctors say.

Is so-called prohibition policy ineffective?

Legislation and specific drug laws are seen as an important weapon in the fight against such addictive substances, but if an evidence-based approach were taken, it could be recognized that there is actually no evidence, the scientists explain. So is a so-called ban policy that has been applied for years really ineffective?

Were there any restrictions in the study?

The report acknowledges that there are gaps in data collection, particularly in relation to illegal drugs and in countries where data collection is not as good as in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia. (as)

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