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Which Is Worse alcohol abuse or cigarette smoking?

Updated on January 12, 2016

This week you learned about the effects of alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking. Which habit do you think is more destructive? Why? Please consider the long-term effects on society, including the social, medical, and economic impact of these choices.

Alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking are both very destructive habits that can have long-term effects on society. I personally feel that cigarette smoking is more destructive than alcohol abuse because of the number of deaths caused by smoking in relation to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is estimated to cause 10,839 from drunk drivers causing accidents; that is one person every 50 minutes will die due to a drunk driver (Drunk Driving Facts: The Costs Of Drinking And Driving, 2015). It is estimated that 88,000 people die every year from alcohol related causes (Alcohol Facts and Statistics, n.d.). Cigarette smoking is estimated to cause more than 480,000 deaths per year (Tobacco-Related Mortality, 2015). Exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to be responsible for 7,333 annual deaths from lung cancer and 33,951 annual deaths from heart disease (Tobacco-Related Mortality, 2015). It is estimated that 88,000 to 100,000 deaths are caused by alcohol abuse and drunk driving while cigarette smoking is estimated to kill about 521,000 people from smoking and secondhand smoke. This makes cigarette smoking more destructive than alcohol abuse purely from the difference in the number of deaths it causes annually.

Alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking are also both very destructive to the human body and to the economy. Alcohol abuse is estimated to cost the United States approximately 25 billion dollars in health care and 224 billion dollars overall annually (Trends & Statistics, 2015). Cigarette smoking is estimated to cost the United States 130 billion dollars in health care costs and 295 billion dollars overall annually (Trends & Statistics, 2015). While some alcohol abusers and smokers do pay for their own health care many do not, or cannot, in which case the United States taxpayers end up having to pay for these bad habits. In addition to costing the United States economically, alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking are also damaging to those who participate in them.

Alcohol abuse can cause a lower resistance to diseases, less protection against diseases, and an increased risk of stroke (Hales, 2013, p. 433). Alcohol abuse also weakens heart muscles, raises blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, altered hormone levels, irregular menstrual cycles, an increased risk of having a child with a birth defect, damaged brain cells, impaired memory, dulled senses, and an impaired physical condition (Hales, 2013, p. 433). People who abuse alcohol are much more likely to suffer from cancer, pancreatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis (Hales, 2013, p. 433). Cigarette smoking can cause premature death, cancer, heart disease, strokes, and respiratory diseases (Hales, 2013, p. 459). Cigarette smoking alters mood-regulating chemicals, stimulates craving for nicotine, dulls taste buds, irritates the membranes, damages the air sacs, narrows air passages, stimulates adrenaline production, increase heart rate, increases blood pressure, and inhibits the formation of urine (Hales, 2013, p. 458). Alcohol abuse and cigarette smoking are both very destructive towards the human body.

Cigarette smoking is overall more destructive than alcohol abuse. On average cigarette smoking kills 392,000 more individuals than alcohol abuse does overall. Cigarette smoking costs the United States approximately 71 billion dollars more than alcohol abuse does. Cigarette smoking is also more damaging to the human body than alcohol abuse and is harder to reverse than the damages cause by alcohol. Statistically speaking, cigarette smoking is the more damaging because the loss of life, cost, and damage is more severe than that caused by alcohol abuse.

References

Alcohol Facts and Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

Drunk Driving Facts: The Costs Of Drinking And Driving. (2015, February 23). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.drive-safely.net/drunk-driving-facts/

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

Tobacco-Related Mortality. (2015, August 18). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/tobacco_related_mortality

Trends & Statistics. (2015, August 20). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

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