Smoking and drinking have many similarities and differences. The two are both legal in the United States for people over a certain age, but just because they are legal, it does not make them safe.
Whether from the chemicals from smoking or alcohol itself, both substances can have damaging effects on the human body, especially when used frequently and excessively.
Comparing Smoking vs. Drinking
Both alcohol and cigarettes have widespread use, but drinking is more common. In the United States, 55% of adults have reported drinking in the past month.1 In comparison, only 13.7% of adults in the United States are smokers.2 There are also several people who abuse both. While these substances have a lot in common, their dangers are very different.
Short-Term Dangers of Smoking vs. Drinking
Unlike smoking, alcohol has many short-term effects of intoxication that can be fatal. Someone is not going to overdose on nicotine from smoking cigarettes, but on average, six people a day in the United States die from alcohol poisoning.3
Along with overdose, alcohol impairs people’s judgment and motor skills when they are intoxicated. This deadly combination can lead to accidents and injuries including car accidents from driving under the influence. About 28% of fatalities from driving in 2016 were the result of drivers who were impaired by alcohol.4 If someone you care about regularly puts themselves in danger from drinking, it may be one of the first signs that they need alcohol addiction treatment. In contrast, the short-term risks of dying from cigarette smoking is unlikely. There are occasional reports of people dying from fires started by cigarettes, but these numbers only tally to about 590 people a year.5
Long-Term Dangers of Smoking & Drinking
Although smoking a cigarette may not have many immediate risks, its long-term dangers are severe. Smoking can lead to a plethora of health problems including cancer, heart disease, lung disease, COPD, stroke, tuberculosis, and more.2 While not as widespread in damage, prolonged alcohol abuse is also dangerous and leads to some long-term effects including liver disease and increased risk of cancer.
Both smoking and alcohol are also addictive and the body can become dependent on them. People who do become dependent often need PHP or OP to finally stop. While many people drink without any problems, tobacco products are much more addictive. Over half of people who try smoking will become daily smokers at least temporarily.6 Even worse, people are often addicted to both at the same time. People who are addicted to tobacco are four times more likely to also be addicted to alcohol than the general population.7
Vaping vs. Alcohol
Vaping is advertised as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, but the long-term effects of vaping are still mostly unknown and the trend is relatively new. E-cigarettes may be more hazardous than many people realize, but evidence on whether vaping is more dangerous than drinking still needs to be determined.
Is Smoking Worse than Drinking?
Alcohol can do a large amount of damage both immediately from intoxication as well as over time with prolonged use. In contrast, smoking has few short-term concerns, but leads to several long-term dangers. Although the dangers of drinking and smoking are very different, according to annual death numbers, smoking is worse than drinking. In the United States, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year, but about 480,000 people die from tobacco.1,2 Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country; whereas, alcohol is the third.1
Neither habit is good for your health, especially with prolonged or frequent use. It is best to get help before the problems get worse or the damage becomes irreversible. Our Pompano substance abuse treatment center helps people overcome their substance abuse problems so that they can regain control of their lives.
If you or someone you care about has a drinking or drug problem, get help today. Call us at 888-280-4763 to get started.
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.
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