Smoking vs. Drinking

A friend and I have been argueing for quite some time now about which is worse cigarette smoking or drinking. My friend is a moderate drinker who likes to binge every now and then at parties. Seeing as how this is so common in college we began the discussion and have yet to come to a conclusion. I don’t drink at all but I do smoke anywhere from 1-4 cigarettes a day. So please help us settle this argument once and for all, which is worse, smoking or drinking?

This is a very difficult question to answer but I will break it down two ways.

Moderate drinking (2 or fewer drinks a day for a male) has some health benefits. Moderate smoking can still hurt your health. Therefore smoking is more dangerous at the truly moderate levels.

OTOH, there are 20 cigarettes in a pack. A pack a day is bad for you but many people do it for a lifetime with only late health problems and some never get anything but short of breath sometimes. I have first hand experience with 20+ drinks a day. That usually causes some pretty serious health problems in ten years or less.

Verdict: Drinking all day every day is worse than smoking all day. Moderate drinking is much better than moderate smoking.

In your case cigarettes are worse. In terms of deaths per year, cigarettes kill may more people per year in the us.

alcohol and binge drinking,1854,574789,00.html

cigarette smoking

A study was released just this week showing that a single cigarette per day triples your chance of both heart disease and lung cancer compared to nonsmoking peers.

A single drink sure won’t kill you like that. I’d agree, however, with the general sentiment that a little smoking is worse than a little drinking but alcohol in quantity is a more definite killer.

If I do both, do they cancel each other out?

I apologize for asking this, and I don’t mean to be insensitive-- but did you really drink 20+ drinks a day for 10 years? I have trouble seeing how anyone could ever become a productive member of society after that level of self-injury.

I started off at the 10 drink a day range and was a fully functional member of society including being an almost straight A student at a very competitive university. Over time, that amount crept up to 12 then 15 then 18 then 20 drinks a day. It was always a precise amount per day. I only drank at night and always had good jobs and everything else. It does take a big toll on your body and mental health however. Things like impending liver damage and high blood pressure going very high creep in after a while. You also feel like absolute hell most of the time. Your tolerance for alcohol get sky high and I was almost never visibly drunk.

I quit drinking overa year ago and was told that almost every bit of damage was reversible. That seems to be true so far.

More people than you would ever imagine drink at extremely high levels every day. Many of them are “high functioning” alcoholics like me. The body take an insane amount of abuse for while but it will eventually just start to give up. The ten year mark seems somewhat of a landmark for permanent damage to really begin. It takes some people less and some people much more however.