Men’s Health Uncategorized

Dangers of Smoking and Drinking Among Black Men

Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

In the contemporary Black community, people who live by specific social scripts don’t even know who wrote them. More often than not, significant strata of such a society expect them to exhibit predefined behaviors and traits. Before long, those lifestyle choices become a norm. Sadly, people being made to imbibe those lifestyle choices don’t question the logic behind them, especially when they come with long-term health implications. To be clear, in such societies, people expect Black males to smoke and drink. If a guy doesn’t do one or both, he may be deemed not man enough! Because everyone wants to be accepted among their peers and social groups, the habit of smoking and drinking among Black males has become commonplace in those communities. In other words, no thanks to peer pressure, those harmful lifestyle choices have become a norm. Unfortunately, nobody thinks of the consequences. So, in this article, I will share with you the untold dangers of smoking and drinking among Black men and how to make informed choices.   

Prevalence and Consequences

Although many Black men are increasingly embracing cigarette-smoking to find solace, other ethnic groups tend to have much worse smoking problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020, 19.4% of non-Hispanic Blacks used several tobacco products. In 2021, the numbers dropped to 8.2%, compared to 11.0% of the non-Hispanic White youths. As regards cigars, the CDC estimated that 3.1% of Black youths used the product, compared to 1.4% of non-Hispanic White youths. The report disclosed that Blacks are more likely to start smoking later in life than their White counterparts. One could attribute several factors to this worrisome trend, including shouldering life’s responsibilities, dealing with stress as we age, and not seeking therapy. To make matters worse, the study noted that Blacks often die from smoking-related ailments more than the White folks.  

Interestingly, there are by far more Black male smokers than any other ethnic group, with one report estimating that male smokers are 20.9%, while the percentage of their White counterparts stands at 17.3%.  Concerning Black males struggling with drinking problems, this has become a challenge that rarely goes away. Fortunately, Blacks are more likely to consume less alcohol than their White counterparts. However, the ethnic group records more deaths than the White folks. Oftentimes, we die from alcohol-related conditions like cirrhosis. In short, one study estimated that there are 1.27 times more cases of cirrhosis among Blacks than there are within the White community. Additionally, there is a 10% higher death rate of alcohol-abuse among Blacks, even though the ethnic strata have a lower alcohol consumption rate.   

Preventing Drinking- and Smoking-related Deaths Among Blacks

As a Black male reading this piece, one thing is certain: Chances are greater that you will die from drinking- or smoking-related illnesses compared to your White friends who do the same. Therefore, you must do the following:

  1. Use your willpower: Understand that you have willpower and use it. Don’t let anyone talk you into smoking or drinking against your wish. Nobody should compel you to start smoking or boozing to prove you are a man. Your physical attributes already tell the world who you are! The truth is, you don’t owe anyone to prove anything to them. What’s more, learn to question lifestyle choices you don’t grasp, and know how to say NO and stick to your guns. If you don’t live for something, you already live for nothing. Be in control of your life, especially when you know you are on the right path.    
  2. Enlightenment: Enlighten your friends about the dangers of smoking and drinking. Guess what, some of them don’t even know the consequences of living such lifestyles. Some watched their fathers smoke and drink, so they thought it was normal for every male to do the same, but it is not! While talking to them, don’t get confrontational. Rather, have a heart-to-heart conversation aimed at helping your buddies kick the harmful habits.    
  3. Peer Pressure Management: Learn how to manage peer pressure. If you can do this, the world is your oyster! Some strategies you should apply include cutting off your friends, making friends with like-minded people, knowing what’s right (as earlier advised), avoiding situations and events that allow such friends to talk you into smoking and drinking, and considering the dangers of giving in.  
  4. Seek healthy substitutes: In truth, some people smoke and drink because they enjoy them. Given the attendant risks of smoking and drinking, the best bet is to find healthy substitutes. So, do more to rediscover yourself and the things you like. For instance, instead of smoking or drinking, you can chew gum, eat your favorite meals, go for a stroll, participate in sports, settle for nonalcoholic drinks, go for snacks and fruits, write some articles, paint some artwork, etc.
  5. Go moderate: I will be frank here – drinking in itself isn’t bad, but drinking in excess is. Therefore, you could drink moderately. A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounce) of pure alcohol. This is seen in 12 ounces of beer containing 5% alcoholic content or 5 ounces of wine containing 12% alcoholic content. As a guy, take 2 drinks or less in one day. Although moderate drinking is a more realistic approach, there’s nothing like moderate smoking. Most times, people who smoke for recreational purposes tend to get addicted to the habit. Once they are addicted to smoking, it may lead to long-term substance abuse in the future. This comes with weighty consequences. Therefore, I strongly advise you don’t smoke.    

With the strategies I have dissected thus far, you can live a smoking- and boozing-free life. Once you achieve that, you can be sure to enjoy healthy living. The proponents of those social scripts always argue that everyone will die someday, no matter how much effort one makes to preserve their life. But then, who sees death and deliberately jumps into it?

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About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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