So you turn on your television to catch the evening news and you hear the news anchor reporting that a person was found on a street. The victim was found laying next to the sidewalk after being hit by an oncoming automobile. According to witnesses, the automobile went out of control while the driver was lighting a cigarette, the make, model, and color of the automobile is displayed on the television screen, as the anchor states the police are asking that anyone that may know the person driving the car, or the whereabouts of the vehicle, contact the state police at once.
When was the last time you turned on the news and heard of a reported death due to cigarettes? None? Neither have I. When was the last time your turned on the news and heard of a reported death relating to alcohol? Every news broadcast? This includes alcohol use involved in auto accidents, use of firearms, stabbings, or physical abuse by someone who has been drinking.
What are the effects of alcohol?
Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, alcohol can cause:
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
- Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
- Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)
Statistics show there are considerably more alcohol related deaths compared to deaths caused by cigarette smoking, yet both are habit forming. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- In 2013, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,076 deaths (30.8 percent of overall driving fatalities).
Yet, Alcoholism is classified as a disease and therapy and rehabilitation is covered by insurance in most instances. But what is alcohol? It is classed as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions—resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly. As for how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgment.
Now let’s compare the chemical alcohol to nicotine found in cigarettes. What is nicotine? Nicotine is an alkaloid drug that is found in certain plants. It makes up 0.6 to 3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco. Nicotine is found in tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabacum) where it is synthesized in the roots and accumulates in the leaves. Nicotine stimulates the release of several neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, vasopressin, dopamine, arginine and beta-endorphin. Pain, anxiety and other negative symptoms are relieved and positive pleasant sensations are increased. Nicotine intake also increases blood glucose levels, which is generally thought to be the result of the increased adrenalin levels that occur with nicotine intake stimulating the liver to release glucose. The increased availability of glucose along with adrenalin is thought to be responsible for the increased learning ability, memory and alertness that has been associated with smoking.
Smoking is classified as a habit rather than as a drug dependency and therefore cigarette cessation is not covered by most insurances for the cost of cessation drugs or rehabilitation.
The point of this comparison is this: In comparison to death related statistics of both alcohol and cigarettes(nicotine), why is there nothing being done to inhibit or reduce the use or sales of alcohol? Why is television and radio media still permitted to advertise and promote the use of alcohol products, with only a disclaimer stating, “Drink Responsibly”. Cigarette manufactures are required to place a disclaimer on each pack stating, “Surgeon General’s Warning: Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight, yet not permitted to advertise or promote their products on television or radio media.
In my opinion, the public needs to raise their voices against alcohol products that statistically is the cause of more deaths in America, than that of cigarettes. There have been so many laws limiting the use of cigarettes in public places, thousands of tax payer dollars spent to investigate and legislate regulations against the tobacco industry to stop cigarette smoking, increasing state taxes on tobacco products,yet offered no assistance in smoking cessation rehabilitation to aid and assist smokers. Advertising of alcoholic beverages should be banned from television and radio media as well, along with legislation requiring a more stringent disclaimer on all alcoholic beverages. The States should increase state taxes on all alcohol sold, resulting in the additional tax income of every State and help meet their budget needs and reduce alcohol related deaths on our highways and neighborhoods. I think it’s time for an anti-alcohol advertising campaign, tougher legislation of alcohol related deaths and definitely tougher laws when it comes to DUI arrests.
What’s next? TV advertisement for pot?
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