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Is smoking and drinking a societal issue or an individual?

Updated on April 28, 2016

A goal is to educate students about methods that can be used to quit smoking and treat alcoholism. Please discuss whether you agree with the following statement: Tobacco use and alcohol abuse are more individual problems than societal issues, so the responsibility for smoking cessation or alcohol treatment belongs to the individual. Be sure to support your responses.

I both agree and disagree with the statement: tobacco use and alcohol abuse are more individual problems than societal issues, therefore the responsibility for smoking cessation or alcohol treatment belongs to the individual. Tobacco use and alcohol abuse are societal issues because they affect everyone, even those that do not smoke or drink; alcohol and tobacco are mind-altering substances that are dangerous enough by themselves, yet the two tend to go together (Hales, 2013, p. 415). People who use tobacco and abuse alcohol cause damage to their brain which in turn can lead to them making bad decisions; these decisions can affect everyone, for instance, if a drunk person makes the decision to drive while under the influence they could harm or kill another person. If a person who smokes tobacco does not remove themselves from others before smoking, then they could contribute to non-smokers suffering from secondhand smoke; if smokers do not put their cigarettes out responsibly then they could cause a fire which could harm others. The fact that tobacco use and alcohol abuse can cause harm to people who do not partake in them is what makes them societal issues.

The responsibility for smoking cessation or alcohol treatment belongs to the individual, but that does not mean that the individual cannot be offered assistance in quitting or getting treatment. I believe the responsibility for dealing with tobacco use and alcohol abuse lies with the individual because they made the decision to start smoking or drinking in excess; I feel it is important that these people take responsibility for their own actions for themselves. More than 90 percent of former smokers quit on their own without help; these people share one main characteristic, they all took personal responsibility for their own health (Hales, 2013, p. 464). There are even groups that are designed to help people with tobacco use and alcohol abuse like Alcoholics Anonymous, Substance Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous; these groups all share one aspect in common, none of these groups recruit, they will help anyone who comes to them, yet they do not seek people out; these groups feel it is the responsibility of the individual to decide to stop and seek assistance (Hales, 2013, p. 408). While I believe the responsibility should lie with the individual I do not believe that the person should be forced to go through the process of quitting and/or getting treatment without aid.


Hales, D. (2013). Invitation to Health: Live It Now (16th ed.). Cengage Learning.


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    • misty103 profile image

      misty103 24 months ago

      Thank you for the great comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 24 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      I believe it is an individual responsibility. If the smoking individual does not think of quitting, we can do nothing in this regard. You can't force him to quit or can offer help when he is not ready to take help. So, the individual should himself realise the issue and the hazards of it and consider it to be his obligation to quit.

      It is a social issue, in the sense that it affects the neighbourhood and society surrounding the smoking addict or alcohol addict. So, other people should also take some responsibility to make the addict realise his bad habits and their effect on society. They should guide him and also help him if he is willing to quit.