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Alcohol, tobacco is a bigger health threat than illegal drugs



London, May 13 Tobacco and alcohol pose a greater threat to human health worldwide than the use of all other addictive, illegal drugs, scientists said.

A study published in Addiction magazine showed that in 2015, alcohol and tobacco consumption between them cost the human population more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted years, with illegal drugs costing another ten million.

Researchers including those from the University of New South Wales in Australia and the University of Bristol in the UK found that the largest health burden of drug use is due to tobacco use and the least due to illicit drugs.

According to global estimates, almost every seventh adult (1

5.2 percent) smokes tobacco and one in five adults report at least one case of heavy drinking last month.

Compared with the rest of the world, Central, Eastern and Western Europe recorded consistently higher levels of alcohol c per capita consumption (11.61, 11.98 and 11.09 liters, respectively) and a higher percentage of heavy consumption among the drinkers (50.5 percent, 48.2 percent and 40.2 percent, respectively).

The same European regions also had the highest prevalence of tobacco use (Eastern Europe 24.2%, Central Europe 23.7% and Western Europe 20.9%)

In contrast, illicit drug use was much less common. In the past year, less than one in twenty people have consumed cannabis and significantly lower estimates have been found for amphetamines, opioids and cocaine. Hotspots were the USA, Canada and Australasia.

The US and Canada had one of the highest rates of cannabis, opioid and cocaine dependence. Australasia had the highest prevalence of amphetamine addiction and high dependence on cannabis, opioid and cocaine (693.7, 509.9 and 160.5 per 100,000 people, respectively).

Some countries and regions (eg Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America) America, Asia) have little or no data on substance use and the associated health burden.

These are typically low- and middle-income countries, which often pursue punitive drug policies and experience severe political and social unrest.

These countries need increased surveillance as they are at risk of rapid escalation of substance use and associated health burden.


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