Annual deaths related to Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs

The following table shows the annual number of deaths related to tobacco, alcohol, hard drugs, XTC and cannabis, for several countries.  Due to uncertainties in criteria use by the providers of the data, figures are uncertain and at best coarse approximations, and are not all for the same years.  They have been rounded off.  The hard drug data are for 1991, and are from a UN report.  UK alcohol and tobacco data from DEA (1990).  Note that cannabis data are not given: no death reports are known for cannabis.  XTC data for the UK is a long-year average from the new Scientist (Jan 1997).  Note:  Data indicated by ? will be provided later.
 
    Relative Drug Deaths
 

Country 
Tobacco
Alcohol
Hard Drugs
Ecstasy
United States
400,000
100,000
6,000
?
France
?
?
400
?
Germany
?
?
2,100
?
Britain
110,000
30,000
300
6
Netherlands
20,000
2,000
40
1?

The following graphical charts from the DRC Library show data for the US.

In the figures for hard drugs the major part by far is formed by heroin, morphine and methadone. E.g. the Home Office reports 400 deaths for the Britain in 199* which were broken down as follows:  heroin and morphine 258; methadone 114; amphetamines 14; cocaine 6; hallucinogens 0.  No other ‘hard’ drugs, not evaluate or compare, since differing or unclear criteria have been used by the institutes that provided them.  E.g. the Home Office publishes a figure of 1200 additional deaths of persons who died having traces of drugs in their bodies, without the drugs being the actual cause of death.

Although the data are of uncertain reliability, from these and other data it is clear the death toll for alcohol is many times as large as the figure for hard drugs.  Moreover, the death toll for tobacco exceeds the figures for all other substances combined (which consists mainly of alcohol deaths) by a factor of 4 or more.  Data for ecstasy and cannabis are completely insignificant when compared to these figures.

And Cannabis?

Finally, for cannabis, we have to resort to comparison with…potatoes.  A quote from the DEA:

“In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.  For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in toxic response.  By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough cannabis to induce death.”