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Alcohol, tobacco are biggest threat to human health, welfare

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A new review published online Friday in the journal Addiction has compiled the best, most up-to-date source of information on alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drug use and the burden of death and disease.

It shows that in 2015 alcohol and tobacco use between them cost the human population more than a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life years, with illicit drugs costing further tens of millions.

The largest health burden from substance use was attributable to tobacco smoking and the smallest was attributable to illicit drugs.

Global estimates suggest that nearly one in seven adults (15.2 per cent) smoke tobacco and one in five adults report at least one occasion of heavy alcohol use in the past month.

Compared with the rest of the world, Central, Eastern, and Western Europe recorded consistently higher alcohol consumption per capita (11.61, 11.98 and 11.09 litres, respectively) and a higher percentage of heavy consumption amongst drinkers (50.5 per cent, 48.2 per cent, and 40 per cent, respectively).

The same European regions also recorded the highest prevalence of tobacco smoking (Eastern Europe 24.2 per cent, Central Europe 23.7 per cent, and Western Europe 20.9 per cent).

In contrast, use of illicit drugs was far less common. Fewer than one in twenty people were estimated to use cannabis in the past year, and much lower estimates were observed for amphetamines, opioids and cocaine. Hotspots included the United States (U.S.), Canada, and Australasia.

The US and Canada had one of the highest rates of cannabis, opioid, and cocaine dependence (748.7 [694.8, 812.3], 650.0 [574.5, 727.3], and 301.2 [269.3, 333.7] per 100,000 people, respectively).


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