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Tobacco Versus Alcohol: A Modern Double Standard

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Are different standards applied to smokers versus alcoholics?

Are different standards applied to smokers versus alcoholics?

Big Tobacco vs. Big Alcohol: A Modern Double Standard

In the often overused words of one of our famous past presidents, “Let me be clear..."

Let me be clear. I do not smoke and I have fewer alcoholic drinks in a year than I can count on one hand. I experienced my 18-year-old rite of passage with a ceremonial pack of smokes. I hated it, couldn’t stand the smell, the taste was awful and the after effect jitters were obnoxious. Three years later I would mark another milestone with booze (actually I was a few months shy of turning 21, but it was my bachelors night for crying out loud). I again met this ritualistic exposé openly and dumbfounded by its useless after effect. Fast forward to the present, I am 32 years old and I neither smoke nor drink. In my opinion, this gives me far greater leverage to point out how ridiculous both sides act and how our government put the transmission into hypocrisy overdrive.

Tackling a topic like tobacco is a daunting task. Like any habit, there are individuals who know how to moderate their use, thus not making themselves into a caricature of the product. On the other hand, there are those who were born without a shut off valve and they simply cannot help themselves. Here is my opinionated honest disclosure; smoking isn’t sexy, it isn’t cool, it’s a nuisance and seems rather irrational to partake of.

However that may be, it is legal, and those who wish to exercise their right to practice this habit deserve some latitude. Next, common sense dictates brain knowledge would identify breathing in toxic fumes are not healthy, okay. Smoking is also progressively getting more expensive via authoritarian taxation and the healthcare industry getting tired of wasting valuable resources on pre-existing stupid people. One more nasty point to make then I will move on; you smokers who throw your used butts out the window…you deserve to come home to a house filled from the tile to the ceiling in cigarette butts. Your litter is shameful and atrociously lazy. Now its time I shift gears and do a little defending of this gross habit and smokers in general. My reasons for defending are simple; in my heart of hearts, I wish our society practiced more libertarianism tempered by strong ethical conduct and take no prisoners justice. I would be for a more open society as long as we dealt with criminals swiftly and harshly. There is a negligence (many to be more correct) practiced by our federal government in the lopsided demonization of smokers. There are thousands of ways in which we can abuse our bodies and mistreat it over a lifetime. America has developed progressive tactics designed to ostracize smokers and alienate them from the rest of the herd. I feel we are long overdue in exposing the gross double standard on display when alcohol use is not compared to cigarette use.


Most of us are very familiar with the anti-smoking campaigns and movies designed to humiliate lousy companies like Philip Morris. I will not address the actions of tobacco company executives; I do not separate them from pre-1970s asbestos executives. This isn’t about the companies; it is about the users in general. So, we’ve seen the commercials played on TV and before blockbuster movies, mocking tobacco users. We’ve seen the silent video’s of students playing dead in the streets with one of them holding up a sign stating “this is how many people die of tobacco use everyday.”

My question is where are the similar ads for alcohol? How many women were beaten after their drunk ass old man came home from the bar griping about his lousy day? How many teenagers will never make it to college because they were killed by a drunk driver? How many women are date-raped because alcohol was involved? How many AA meeting are held every week in America by people desperately wishing to kick their addiction. How many breathalyzer testing machines have been installed in civilian cars because they cannot help themselves? If we could accurately answer all of these questions, smoking would pale in performance compared with the damage done by alcohol. But alcohol doesn’t get the same treatment…why is that?

Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities declined by 7.4 percent in 2009—10,839 compared to 11,711 reported in 2008. Overall, 33 states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009 compared to 2008. (Oh good, so only 27 states experienced an increase in alcohol-related deaths.)

Negative Consequences of Alcohol

  • Drunk driving fatalities: The number of fatalities in teenage drunk driving has declined 37% since 2000 and is down 74% since tracking began in 1982. Going from 4,214 in 1982 to 1,720 in 2000 and 1,180 fatalities in 2009. A record low. There were over 3,000 fewer deaths per year compared to 1982. (Yeah, and little Mikey rolling his mom's 2008 Mercedes ML350 is a whole lot safer versus dad's old Chevrolet Citation. What a novel concept, we have safer vehicles, but wait, only 1,180 teenagers unnecessarily died— a record low people, rejoice.)
  • Sexual assault on campus: On average, at least 50% of college students' sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use.
  • Rape: More than half of rapists had been drinking.
  • Crimes, suicides, accidents: Heavy drinking is involved in 60% of violent crimes, 30% of suicides, and 80% of fire and drowning accidents.
  • Murders: Of all murders, alcohol was involved in at least 34% of cases.
  • Child abuse: Convicted mothers are three times more likely to be alcoholics. Convicted fathers are 10 times more likely to be alcoholics.
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome: 2.9% of 1,000 live births have fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Health care costs: The use of alcohol cost $15 billion (1983) for health care and treatment.

Look, this isn’t a condemnation of casual drinkers who exercise wisdom and safe behavior. This is a conversation about exploring why or how the public perceives the radical difference in treatment of tobacco users versus alcohol users. All rational perspective points to how frighteningly destructive alcohol abusers are. What does under the influence really mean? Does it mean someone lighting up a cigarette is five times more likely to cause an auto accident? Is a pack a day smoker more likely to go home and beat on their children because their serotonin levels dropped and they hate their life? Get real.

Herein lays another tremendous societal double standard; the mighty push to legalize marijuana. I claim no expertise in understanding the effects of second hand smoke, which happens to be one of the most over-hyped rhetorical abuses laid against smokers. Does health related issues arrive from years of second hand smoke, yes. However, so does second hand alcohol abuse, only its much more visible and costly. I suppose all smoke isn’t created equal. If it is marijuana smoke, then all of a sudden it is acceptable for baby Julie to absorb; after all, it’s a natural inhalant! In another hub, I already said my piece about marijuana, so I am not beating that drum; I am only trying to understand how trial lawyers line up to strike down one form of abuse while working to promote another form of abuse.

Logically I know several readers will say follow the money. In the end, it’s always the money. In the 1950s and '60s when the tobacco industry was in their heyday, they had a mighty powerful lobby, but much like the NRA, socialist groups…I mean slant groups work to demoralize and denigrate product supporters and those who like to protect individual rights. The pure hatred for smoking seems to be mostly an American topic. If we look at Eastern countries, they do not harbor such an incipient hatred for Marlboro and Camel users.

Reasons to Hate Smokers

  • Tobacco companies target children with their advertising (yeah, and alcohol companies never cater to young men)
  • Tobacco use is a huge contributor to the skyrocketing costs of healthcare (I am sure it contributes, but how does alcohol-related vehicular manslaughter stack up in human cost, insurance, auto and health?).
  • Tobacco use is harming the environment. (Remember the Captain of the Exxon Valdez “Joseph Hazelwood” who was under the influence of alcohol? That was a lot of damage by one inebriated guy!)
  • Tobacco use is a disgusting habit. (Waking up face down in a pile of your own vomit is glamorous?)
  • Smoking in a restaurant ruins my meal. (Sure it is annoying, but no more than dudes who develop larger beer muscles with each sip of Jack Daniels.)
  • Smoking is a turn-off. (I agree, however, someone can’t slip ecstasy in your Virginia Slim and then take you somewhere to date-rape you.)

I think you get my drift. I am not advocating the strict ban of either; I am tired of the dishonesty for which people perpetrate in the name of causes. Moreover I do not want to hear the tired excuse that prohibition failed, it's about the money. We know marijuana proponents continue to fight for legalization, and now 15 states currently have some form of legalized pot. Looks like more money for state coffers. Just try to find all the money spent on anti-smoking campaigns, maybe that money could have been better spent toward child education? I personally like how Californians used $14.5 million dollars for anti-smoking commercials during Super Bowl, click the LA Times link below.

Please, find your own facts, come to your own conclusion, but the next time you see someone light up, think about a drunk driver and ask yourself who is worse. Thanks for reading.



Jeremy Arnold on October 30, 2017:

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Add the double standard for ALL drug use. As someone who enjoys smoking and requires the occasional use of opioids to help. my chronic pain, this double standard is one of my major pet peeves. Vaping has given people a much safer way to smoke and now the government is making a huge effort to demonize it even it minimizes mostof the risks associated with smoking. I developed my disdain for alchohol in high school in college, when I watched friends get drunk and fight, cry, get in wrecks, get arrested and wake up in bed naked with someone the don’t recognize. I also had a friend who was killed by a drunk driver. Alchohol is the ONLY drug that has personally affected me while being used by other people. Alchohol

is also one of the most toxic drugs for the body affecting MANY organs. It is much more toxic than opiates, cocaine, nicotine or THC. I laugh when I see statistics listed about drug abuse because the cost to society of Alchohol use is always GROTESQUELY understated while the costs attributed to other drugs are often overstated (ie. much of the crime associated with illicit drugs comes as a result of our unconscionable, failed and misguided “War on Drugs” and not from drug use itself). I have never seen seen someone inject heroin and become a belligerent malcontent. I’ve never heard of someone injecting heroin and assaulting his wife. I’ve never heard of someone taking a few Vicodin, sleeping with a complete stranger and accidentally creating a child. Pharmaceutical companies are being demonized for creating pain medication that benefits millions of people while the Media Alchohol brewers are considered artisans and beer a stronghold of American culture.... I’m not defending the recreational use of opioids... just pointing out another double standard. I could go on and on with examples. Good article!

Francine on July 25, 2017:

I saw an anti smoking commercial right before I headed out to my balcony to light one up. I contemplated pouring a drink first but decided against it and it got me to thinking about how infuriating this topic is. I'm glad I found your article and see that some people are on the same page as me.

It's mind blowing really. I have nothing to add because you covered it all. It's just such blatant and unacceptable hypocrisy. I don't even see how it's legal to demonize the tobacco companies for selling their legal product. It makes zero sense when alcohol is celebrated so much. It's truly bizarre and yet everyone just goes along like it's an obvious thing.

Kenny from Birmingham, AL on March 23, 2017:

As a non-smoker married to a woman who smokes, I found this to be a very interesting article and would love to add my two cents.

First of all, my wife and I are an age-gap couple. She grew up in the 50s and I grew up in the 90s. Judging from the stories she tells me, the social climate was much warmer for smokers when she started back in 1956. She started when she was ten years old and her parents proudly gave her their permission to smoke openly when she turned eleven. I can’t imagine a parent giving their child permission at that age when I was a kid, much less now. But according to her, it wasn’t that uncommon. Keep in mind that the Surgeon General’s warning against smoking wouldn’t come out until the late 60s. By that time, she was a three pack a day smoker and quitting was not an option.

Personally speaking, I’ve never had a problem being around smokers. My mother is a smoker, so I suppose she unwittingly primed me to marry a woman who smokes. As far as drinking is concerned, I never gave it much thought until I saw the bans against smoking come in place. I’ve always thought it was unfair how smokers were treated versus drinkers. To me it’s a big to do about nothing as well as a pass on something that is more dangerous than smoking.

I get nervous when I see a person drinking, because I know that they’re on the verge of becoming a danger to myself and others. I don’t feel that way about smokers. I’ve lived intimately with a heavy smoker for the last 23 years. And before that, I grew up in a house with a mother who smoked, so I’ve been around it for all my life. I’m okay. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I don’t see the problem. But I do see the problem for my wife.

Every aspect of our life is affected by discrimination against smoking. I don’t think drinkers feel this way. It affects where we go and how we get there and how long we stay there. It also affects our budget. I spend close to $10,000 a year on my wife’s cigarettes. How much of that is taxes? Whenever we travel, I need to research and reserve nice hotels that still have smoking rooms. But drinkers have no trouble renting hotel rooms and trashing them. Anything that happens outside of our home is a hassle, because of bans and restrictions.

It bothers me that my wife has to feel like a villain when we leave the house. She’s not a villain. She’s a beautiful, sweet, sophisticated woman…and she’s a smoker. I love her and I’m proud of her.

The Author on August 19, 2016:

YJ, thank you for taking the time to read my post, however, if you believe I shamed smokers on this post, you really didn't read it thoroughly.

Yj on August 18, 2016:

I find it stupid for people to say simply quit smoking and I hate the way you have shamed smokers on your post. Everybody knows it's harmful for health but do non smokers understand how hArd it is to quit.

Dean on June 01, 2016:

Excellent discussion. I've tried to make this comparison for years but you can't. Alcohol is too socially acceptable and people will defend their right to it fiercely.

I'm an alcoholic and after 30 some yrs of drinking I quit ! 27 yrs ago now.'s like starting life over again only clear headed and feeling great. It was probably the hardest thing I will ever do. It's was not easy , and I had no help , no AA, no rehab. Who knows where the strength comes from. Since I quit it's amazing what people will believe or trust that the governments are acting in our best interest.

I still smoke and I really do enjoy it. Of course I am relegated to back alleys and back yards which I understood so ok I'll smoke where you can't seem me. But enough is enough, spend some of those advertising dollars educating people on what Alcohol really does and no one ever reports statistics on it's far reaching effects. It's an abused and acceptable socially.

People have stopped using their brains and depend on the government to do their thinking for them.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 12, 2015:

I certainly appreciate the very well thought out and appropriately toned responses. As some have mentioned the many side effects that should be legislated and or protected against, I am first and foremost one reliant on self-responsibility as well as self-censor. I refrain from that which I do not wish to participate. However, I do not sit on my side of the fence with a bull horn and ostracize all passersby whom partake of something unpleasant in their own quarters. This I apply to all facets of life within personal taste and limitation. I have plenty of other write ups and opinions of those who harm others maliciously.

Here the case is extremely transparent, and further made obvious by the mentioned anti-tobacco ads of late. As someone nearing one million road miles under my feet, I have yet to witness manslaughter via a Marlboro induced haze. As someone who is also a native Californian, and on the front-lines of Nanny Statism, I wish the central planners well in exercising self-restraint and a return to less is more. The one irony in all of this is the growth of the Marijuana/Cannabis industry – another awesome double standard that boggles all synaptic firing. I’ve said my peace on this subject and graciously thank those whom have commented.

God Bless.

James Bronson on July 12, 2015:

You are a Man among Men... I recently began asking myself this very same question after viewing so many of the ads promoting tobacco cessation. And they are becoming unnecessarily graphic. I'd rather not see some guy's heart surgery scar while waxing philosophical of how he can't play with his kids. I shouldn't be subjected to a woman speaking through her trachea and regaling us poor unfortunate souls with precautionary tales of drown prevention while showering. Smoking was these folks' choice, plain and simple, but this same choice is taken away from viewers who are just passing time while awaiting their favorite show to return from a commercial break.

rjbatty from Irvine on June 14, 2015:

A couple of additional observations. Sorry to take up so much space. I fully agree with you about the odd regulation of tobacco vs. alcohol. While cigarettes are locked behind glass shutters and one has to ask for a pack of this or that, alcohol is totally unregulated. You can go to any family-friendly grocery store and find aisles of different alcohol. There's the refrigerated aisle for an every-growing diversity of beers. Step into the next aisle and you'll find a nearly equal number of wines for your consumption. Step into the next aisle and you'll find an amazing assortment of hard liquors -- rum, vodka, tequila, whiskey, scotch, etc. Step into the next aisle and you'll find a wide assortment of mixers or pre-mixed beverages. During certain holidays, the grocery stores will stack boxes of alcohol between aisles and anywhere else that on other occasions might be outfitted with marshmallow bunnies or Halloween candies. So yeah, there is no parity between the two vices.

To this I would add that people drink (often to excess) to relieve either their psychological or physical pain. People are not given a lot of choice here. Drinking is by far more dangerous than smoking. A person can drive and smoke but if they are drunk they are like an unguided missile.

There are inhumanly strict restrictions placed upon doctors who might prescribe pain-killing drugs. If you can get your doctor to prescribe 30 tablets of Vicodin, you are lucky. You can be in indescribable pain, but doctors will not prescribe you anything beyond perhaps a month's worth of relief. They are so afraid of malpractice that they seem content to just let you suffer rather than risk a lawsuit. People who are not helped by the array of anti-depressant drugs -- most of which are just variations of serotonin-re-uptake-inhibitors (SRIs), have no recourse other than the drastic measure of submitting themselves to electro-shock therapy. The pain they are experiencing is quite real and basically intolerable. So, what is a person in pain supposed to do? What can they do to ameliorate their suffering? Well, the grocery aisles sure offer plenty of choices. Drinking comes at a price -- and I don't mean the inflated prices people must pay for a bottle of wine. There are so many terrible side-effects to drinking alcohol, but people in pain will endure their hangovers and the savaging of their livers -- just to get a night's sleep or an evening that seems to counter their battle with depression, anxiety and panic. Alcohol works. It's worked for ages. It's horrid, poisonous stuff, but it numbs the mind for a time ... and sometimes that's sufficient -- just to have a few hours of relief from one's agony. But my point is that if the medical community was less concerned about lawsuits, perhaps some portion of this suffering community might be helped with doctor-prescribed drugs. Presently, there really isn't much out there. The most effective pain-relieving drugs are opium based and they are addictive. You take something like Vicodin long enough, your body adjusts to it, and you need bigger dosages or more frequent dosing. That isn't so great either. My beef is that the pharmaceutical companies really need to do a lot more about finding pain-killers that are non-addictive and don't cost an arm and a leg. They also need to do much more in the area of providing relief to those afflicted with depression. Just dancing around a variety of SRIs is insufficient. Something like half the people who take SRIs do not experience any relief. That's pretty serious. Unless the scientific community can provide viable alternatives, people will continue to visit the alcohol aisles of their neighborhood grocery store. A lot of people drink -- not just to get a buzz but because they are experiencing a wide spectrum of pain. Whether the pain is physical or psychological hardly matters. Pain is pain.

rjbatty from Irvine on March 21, 2015:

This is a nicely conceived article, despite all the typos. I recently published an article on smoking. We diverge in our opinions to a certain extent. I think the subject is far more complex than you exposed. I haven't yet addressed the subject of alcohol, but I may. I fully understand your frustration and alienation toward people who smoke or drink. You bring up points that are not really debatable. Both are "vices" and you are someone who abstains then the argument can get really heated. I'm one of those people who prefer less government control than more. There are a lot of things that are harmful to us -- including most fast-food and beverages (i.e., Coke/Pepsi etc.). If you eat too many Hershey bars, you are damaging your health. If you eat too much salty or sugary foods, you are damaging your health. So, okay you get my drift. Even if you eat nothing at all, you are on the road to suicide. The point is that we live in a quasi-democracy, and as such we cannot place limits on what an individual chooses to consume of his or her free will. You do not want to live in a "nanny state" where the government decides what you will consume. That isn't the answer to public health concerns or their cost upon our society. You have to allow people to make their own choices -- good or bad. You have to accept the awful consequences of people making bad choices because we supposedly live under a democracy that allows people to live their lives as they choose. We have to agree upon this; otherwise, we give up our freedoms (some of which work against us), for a state-controlled kind of country. And this can really get out of hand. (Oh, so-and-so ordered a medium-sized Pepsi located at your favorite pizza joint at such and such an hour -- add to data base on XX for violating rules about over-consumption of the defined list of potentially harmful soft drinks). The seemingly innocuous rules of the nanny state could easily lead into an authoritative imperative. I don't think either of us would want to see that.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on December 21, 2014:

At Giff, your statement is precisely what is wrong with society, if you cannot see that alcoholics kill others, then there are larger issues at hand. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Giff on December 12, 2014:

Why can't we just let people live there lives. If they are hurting no one but themselves.

Heinz57 on October 25, 2014:

Like to add something to the person who said tobacco should be outlawed. Tried tha with alcohol,if you remember your history. Banning tobacco would cause a huge spike in illegal and black market activity. Not something we need.Americans always want something the law says they cannot have.

urbanindian on October 25, 2014:

Gotta agree with mr. Heinz 57. Wish i could count the number of times I have been to a Denny's or some place like that for dinner,and heard some fool whining about smokers,and how "evil' they are,while he has four or five"dead soldiers" in front of him,and he has not even eaten yet. Then he gets into his car,and endangers the life of everyone he gets near. As a Native person,I find the whole thing kind of funny. When the Europeans came,they brought alcohol,which has been the scourge of my people for generations. But,we gave them tobacco,or as they call it back home on the rez,Pocohantis' Revenge.(along with casinos) So go ahead,keep all the land you stole. We have your money.

Big Al on October 25, 2014:

If i had a choice between a smoke filled room,and a room full of non smoking drunks,I would pick the smokey room every time. I say tax the hell out of alcohol. Make the boozers pay for at least some of the havoc their filthy habit causes.

Heinz57 on October 25, 2014:

First,allow me to qualify my remarks by saying that I do not advocate for either habit. But having engaged in both(not any more) I see the double standards. Whenever new tax revenues are needed,it is the 20% of Americans wh have not yet found a way to quit,who get hit. If the tobacco tax is put to a ballot vote,it is sure to pass. Sad,because it takes no guts or sense of civic duty to vote for a tax you do not have to pay. On the other hand,85% of of age Americans admit to drinking daily,even if it is only one. By comparison alcohol is hardly taxed at all. In some areas a carton of premium cigarettes can cost upto $100.00 more than half of it is tax. Yet a 20 pack of beer can be had for as little as $.50 a can. Alcohol does more harm, to more people,in more ways,than anything else you can think of,including smoking.Alcohol is the leading cause of trauma injuries(which tobacco taxes pay for) Auto deaths,pedestrian deaths,muggings,domestic violence,sexual assault,animal abuse,divorce,lost job time,the list goes on and on. Yet drinkers get off virtually scott free,in the broader outlook. Consider this. How fast would our deficit,and national debt disappear,if we had a simple $.25 tax on all containers sold and all served drinks? When was the last time you ever heard of someone slamming into a school bu full of second graders because they had one too many Marlboros? Smokers should not be isolated and demonized. They are addicts,and need help not ridicule. The biggest offenders,of being snarky with smokers,is,oddly enough,ex smokers,who forgot where they came from,and think they suddenly have the right to get self righteous.

pazuzu on October 12, 2014:

I see the author is still active so I will give a shot at putting a comment. Totally agree that there are gross double standards, especially with alcohol. The easiest way to observe these double standards is to look at college kids. Smoking is passe, alcohol still rules and weed is the new cool. And all three can be damaging in their own right. I have had experience with all three and still occasionally partake in a variety of them. I was addicted to cigarettes once, never cared much for alcohol since they gave me headaches and my job required me to focus, and like to smoke up once in a while.

In my opinion the biggest issue is still alcohol. Since it impairs control. Accidents, overdose, synergistic effects with a variety of prescription and non prescription drugs can be lethal. And it harms others way more due to aggressive tendencies (you are drunk and you carry a weapon, your social inhibition goes down and you are more likely to use it), incapabilities (impaired driving, operating any form of machinery...) and generally leads to decay of life if used in excess. When was the last time you saw a heavy smoker leading a decayed life? Sure s/he might die of cancer but his/her standard of life usually remains optimum until a final end stage.

Health insurance companies rate smokers high risk since there are many secondary diseases which happen such as bronchitis. Plus, liver failure is cheaper to treat (or not treat) while anti cancer drugs are very expensive. And money speaks.

But why do we never target it? Simply because it is taboo. After the prohibition era, the use of alcohol has almost been associated with personal freedom and we simply need a big incident to happen to bring the ill effects to the forefront.

And it is also a very cultural thing. Something which needs more thought. Beer and wine are considered normal and binge drinking either is to some extent acceptable. Whiskey or other liquor is more frowned upon. Yet beer contains more calories and you need copious amounts to reach a bliss which whiskey with a lesser calorific content may provide. Again, in Europe, smoking is more normalized than in the US. Or in Asia, where the scenario is often reversed and drinking is denigrated and frowned up (perhaps due to an Islamic influence at some point).

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 30, 2014:

Greetings Hazem,

Your comment is most thoughtful and should be thought provoking for those who say they only partake of alcohol for social gatherings, or to “relax and unwind.” It is a health issue, I fully agree, I merely bring up the most blatant falsehoods and fallacies because of the inequitable treatment smokers receive versus drinkers. I am remiss to describe any anti-alcohol advertisements equivocal to anti-smoking ads placed before box-office movies or DVD rentals. Again you are correct that this is not a modern double standard, here I play upon the fact that we are a scientific and technology based society now, and as such, it is pathetic that overwhelming data is obfuscated or obscured in favor of one over another. I thank you for your contribution to this argument and I hope that more people wake up to this issue.

hazem on July 28, 2014:

A very interesting article and comments indeed. The moment I finished reading I realized that we are limiting this comparison to health, in fact tobacco and alcohol may share the same outcome of who ever chooses to take their path, that is increasing ones chances of health risks. However, one can say so does a plethora of other habits, including food, fitness, sleep and the list will go on.

The biggest difference I see between alcohol and tobacco, is that alcohol slowly strips the drinker out of their humanity, sip by sip, leaving the drinker with what is left, and that is the animal being rather than the human being.

This person has decided for the next few hours/days/weeks that they do not want to take responsibility of anything they do or say, do as they please to themselves and others, hence the conclusion of most alcohol usage leads to criminal activities, because making such a decision requires a criminal mind to start with.

I said most above because I understand that in other cases, people can be pressured, by peers or life style, and for the majority of these they view this habit as an inevitable habit to enjoy the fruits of freedom and being in-control. These types need to be treated!

I believe alcohol should be viewed and treated on a completely higher level from tobacco, it should be socially acknowledged as a drug, just like other drugs which share similar outcomes but may differ in their popularity and availability. Which again is also the result of some kind of "double standards" only it is not modern.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on February 16, 2014:

Hello Kmori, it is because of your story and so many similar that I wrote this article. I wish you the best in life and more blessings to come. Thank you for your reaction and what it means to you.

Kmori on February 13, 2014:

Thank you for bringing this into the light. I am a current smoker (kicking myself in the butt cause I quit for 3 wks. and then started again!) and a former drinker.

I never drank and drove, never hurt anyone while intoxicated (other than myself) and was fairly friendly under the influence - which possibly contributed to the horrors of alcohol use in my life: Acquaintance raped at a party at 18 (was still a virgin) and someone slipped something into *his* bottle at a BYOB party and gave me a shot (guess where *that* ended?) Well, almost ended - because the true ending was my friend shortly thereafter that evening contemplating whether or not I needed a trip to the ER because I was so violently ill. Flip side, my bio dad was a drunk who beat my mother into 2 miscarriages; I was married to 2 abusive drunks (only abusive using hard liquor) and lost a brother-in-law to the effects of alcohol (Hepatitis) at the ripe old age of 35 (beer drinker only), leaving a wife, 3 kids and a family of alcoholics behind. No one in my circle has died or been injured directly from tobacco - though it may have contributed to hastening my mother's death at the age of 68. She had PF, and lung cancer snuck up on her during her battle - her sister also died from PF, but never smoked. My grandmother smoked her whole life, my grandfather never smoked (but lived with her "second hand smoke") his whole life - both died at the age of 88 (4 yrs. apart) - he, of blocked arteries, her in her sleep.

I'll take a tobacco user over an alcoholic any day of the week. I found you while looking for articles on this subject because my state just drew up a bill hoping to push for the go ahead to sell alcohol at our State Fair. This is the same state with some of the strictest, harshest laws against smoking in the nation - Indiana, bassackwards and proud of it!

Cynthia Taggart from New York, NY on September 15, 2013:

About a year ago I was watching the Military Channel (you know, that channel with all the history of the military and stuff) and an older General (who trains recruits) said this (and I paraphrase): "I don't know what it is, but today's young men are a lot unhealthier than the soldiers of the last generation. I don't understand it. The soldiers back then smoked and drank - some every day - but these men today, many don't smoke or drink much - are more unhealthy. I don't get it."

Just wanted to say that the lack of a home life may be the real culprit in health. If everyone had to eat all their meals at home, like they did in the past, they would not only be able to eat more food and not get over weight, they could probably drink and smoke in moderation without consequence. Interestingly too, the rates of lung cancer have not changed even though more people have quit smoking. Go figure. My parents smoked and their parents smoked. And my parents lived just as long. Remedy for health: Don't go to the doctor.

Dick Stephens on April 26, 2013:


You missed an important fact, that is also hard to understand. All of your facts are correct, and backed up by many studies. The most recent one in the UK. But even with these facts,,, our government has raised taxes on tobacco 800% since 1951, all based on the harmful effects of smoking. Yet, and again study after study shows alcohol as worse for not only our health, but also second hand, economically and socially,, our government has only raised taxes on alcohol 40%,,, and there has not been a raise since 1991

fima on April 12, 2013:

Im a non smoker and non drinker

But even i realise the double standard

Smoking harms your body/lungs surely alcohol doesn't pfft give me a break. Even if smoking would be banned or if you dont smoke have you ever thought about what is in the air already due to plains cars etc why dont people say anything about that im actually quite sure it might be waaay worse than cigarette smoke what about all the shit they put in our food, there will always be something.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on August 19, 2011:

Hello Russell, thank you for stopping by to read and leave feedback, much appreciated. cheers.

RussellLHuey on August 19, 2011:

GReat information.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 28, 2011:

Hi Barber,

sorry I missed your latest comment. You are accurate in your assessment of how people give the “tisk tisk” and a head shake to smokers. Admittedly, we have a chain smoker and it does get difficult for us not to judge his discernment. The poor fellow is all of 98 pounds and has a very addictive personality. I believe cigarettes are an active barrier to his getting into something heavier. Under the circumstance I speak of in my hub, you are also correct, but I do not want to devalue the meaning behind racial segregation and isolating smokers. We have to be careful when we compare something incomparable. Thank you for keeping the conversation going. Cheers.

Hi Mr. Spiffy,

Thank you for adding another dimension to this conversation. Using what the insurance industry deems high risk is equally important for determining vise category. I wanted to stay away from diving into the health detriments of alcohol and tobacco, as they represent very different risks.

I want everyone to know that I am not denying any adverse health risk with cigarette smoking. But, as you said, many people do not bother to understand the casual side of smoking as they do drinking. I once dated a young gal who was pretty conscientious of how many she smoked in a day, not using past 4 cigarettes. I had another friend who had only a few per week. Then we have all seen the person who lights up a fresh one before the one in their mouth is spent. We each have degrees for vices we abuse.

There is one more factor I stayed away from, but could be an important form of comparison; hard liquor drinkers versus heavy beer drinkers. To any who counts calories, you can tell the difference in body make up between the two. Enough said.

I really appreciate your valuable contribution Mr. Spiffy. Thank you, and I hope to see more of your industry wisdom down the road.

SpiffyD from The Caribbean on July 28, 2011:

Hello Jason,

It was interesting that the hub sought to compare tobacco use and alcohol. I say interesting because I've just seen them lumped together as "vices" by some sectors. Smoking is like a dangerous irritant with harmful long-term effects. Alcohol does not "bother" too many persons, unless someone is really drunk and ridiculous, but the short-term effects can be devastating (the DUI example).

It is really interesting to compare the two. The thing about smoking is that you either do it or you don't. Of course, there are categories of smokers...the chain smoker versus the light smoker. However, there are even more categories as far as alcohol.

Alcohol is much easier use in moderation, especially as it does not necessarily contain substances that make people addicted to it. Life insurers may accept a social drinker at premium rates, but a light smoker would not get a slap on the wrist. Is that a double standard? I don't think so, since life insurers generally move according to the statistics and they are not interested in promoting products, but are looking after their bottom line. Nice hub.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on July 22, 2011:

It is funny that you wrote this article because I was talking a few weeks back about the segregation of smokers. It is almost as if a person can't light up anymore without getting a bad look. With that, I believe there are two types of smokers... the ones that will blow it in your face and the ones who are respectful. I don't like eating with smoke in my face, but I think it shouldn't be demonized when someone walks away from the nonsmokers and throws there butts in the garbage. It reminds me of how it used to be with the color of our skin. Depending on the place it gets that bad!

Once again - great hub and great conversation starter!

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 22, 2011:

Hi Amanda,

thanks for reading and leaving feedback. The reason why this isn’t debated has to do with powerful lobbyist and congressional friends. There is no product in recent memory that has benefited from such amazing protection. The more attention thrown at tobacco, the less attention people pay to alcohol. Thanks for the comment.

Hi Revlady,

It’s especially nice to hear from you. I am always happy to bring a new perspective to injustice. This is a classic example of a shell game. Throw one industry under the bus to save another. I just heard on the radio last night that Washington state will now begin impounding vehicles of drivers who are pulled over and found under the influence. The state police call it a cooling off period so the offender doesn’t get back in the vehicle and drive off; and now I quote, “this isn’t to punish those who are found driving will under the influence, that is the job of the court.” So if someone is pulled over for swerving, blows an illegal reading, that doesn’t mean you are guilty. Society has gone mad. Praise God we have a spiritual insurance policy…God Bless.

RevLady from Lantana, Florida on July 22, 2011:


You made some very interesting points, some of which I had never thought of before. You are right, there is something grossly wrong with the cigarette/alcohol picture.

Thanks for caring and sharing!

Forever His

Amanda M on July 22, 2011:

This is very interesting I never have seen this subject discussed or depated. Good point!

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 21, 2011:

Hi Dahoglund, how right you are about cigarettes and prior culture. Look at WWII, Korea and Vietnam, other than patrol, drinking, gambling and horseplay; soldiers didn’t have much else in their off time. Smoking back then used to start up conversations between strangers looking for a light. I do prefer a smoke free environment, but I will say cigars and pipes do not bother me really. It’s pretty bad that smoking is what a majority of society chooses as its cause to shame; there are so many ugly behaviors that do not get half the attention. Thanks for stopping by to leave feedback. Cheers.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on July 21, 2011:

In my day cigarette were part of the culture.Since that time it has become demonized.I believe smokers and non smokers could have come to accommodations but smokers became demonized.I no longer smoke, by the way. I would not recommend it to anybody but it is outrageous that cigarettes are taxed so high now that it is an unjust tax on those who do smoke. Marijuana I have no experience at. It belongs to a younger generation than me.

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 21, 2011:

Hi Barber, thanks for not getting mad at me ?. I do not mince words and I wasn’t going to start for a topic such as this. I find it acceptable that I can strongly dislike smoking and put up with another citizens right to light up. There is a tragic lack of responsibility associated with those who drink too much and get into a vehicle, knowing they are already outside of the legal definition of intoxicated. But we make sure to segregate smokers like its 1950 in Alabama. It never made sense to me. A smoker lighting up is harming themselves and to a much lesser extent those stuck with them in a confined space, but a drunk driver usually survives horrible accidents and kills strangers. I have zero tolerance for drunk drivers, they gamble with human lives that are not their own. I appreciate you leaving a little background about yourself, I would defend you smoking any day of the week. Thanks.

Hi Anaya,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such nice comments. I probably should have included in the body of my hub that I am a former asthmatic. Cigar and cigarette smoke used to send me into an instant asthma attack, when I turned 18, I had to find out for myself what this smoking was all about. I still do not get it, but that is beside the point. It is legal and should be regarded as such. I had many fellow hubbers take me to task for ripping on marijuana but leaving alcohol alone. The two subjects were not interchangeable the way casual smoking and drinking are. So, to my helpful hubbing friends, I wrote this piece. Thank you for your contribution.

Anaya M. Baker from North Carolina on July 21, 2011:

Thanks for your intelligent discussion of a pretty controversial subject. I agree, there are so many things out there that people willingly choose to do, overeating being a case in point, knowing full well it is bad for them, unattractive, etc. But at the end of the day, smoking cigarettes is legal, so smokers should not be treated as if they are doing something illegal. Smoking may lead to health issues or unpleasant smells, but as you point out, alcohol can and does lead to far worse. It's pretty hypocritical to seize on smoking as the root of society's ills, without also addressing the more serious issue of alcohol.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on July 20, 2011:

I have to say ... you definitely hit on a very tough subject. As a person who has smoked on and off and on and off, I guess I view things a little differently than most. Personally, I say get rid of the anti-smoking campagns and stop alienating the smokers and just get rid of the cigarettes. Make them illegal. After all, then the ones who hate the cigarettes so much and try to alienate the smokers will have nothing more to complain about. And the smokers... well, they will be forced to quit. Win - win... they get better health and we can all stop listening to the anti-smoking BS.

As for alcohol abuse... I have to say, I have never thought of that. You have shed some light and brought up some very good points. I too don't drink that often. Occasionally, at most. It has lost it's appeal the older that I have gotten. However, my sister won't touch the stuff. She has the mindset that you do... and it just doesn't interst her. I applaud her ability to not fall into peer pressure.

This was an excellent hub! And a very hard topic to bring up. It has the ability to get some people pretty riled up! Good job!

Jason R. Manning (author) from Sacramento, California on July 20, 2011:

Hi Paula, thanks for stopping by to read and be the first to comment. I am new to back-linking, this is pretty neat that you ran into me from another site.

As far as this topic goes, I know there are very emotional opinions from both sides. This isn’t about sanction or prohibition, it’s about dialogue. Thanks again.

Paula Andrea, MA from www.mode of cosmic on July 20, 2011:

You have provided very useful information.

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