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Outbreak 101: When A Pint of Alcohol is Deadlier Than A Pack of Cigarette

COVID19 Alcohol Beer Smoking Cigarette Poster WHO Health

It has come to a point where if you have an alcohol drinker, a cigarette smoker and a person who doesn’t drink or smokes, the last person to be infected would be the alcohol drinker considering how alcohol kills viruses. The smoker on the other hand would probably be the first to be infected considering how COVID19 affects the lungs. Image source: Poster by WHO

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alcohol non alcoholic beer snippet Heineken

The Weird Decision on Alcohol

As part of the strict lockdown, the Government have come up with a list of essentials and non-essentials industry and items and this is understandable as this is necessary to curtail the number of workforces.

Then a very weird, dumb decision was announced:-

Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid today said that the sale of cigarettes can still continue despite it not being listed as an essential item, as it is “essential to cigarette addicts”.

However, he reportedly said that cigarettes can be sold during this total lockdown period, to cater to those with smoking addiction.

“Although they are non-essential under (the SOPs from the) NSC, they are still ‘essential’ to cigarette addicts.

“We can’t stop its sale, otherwise there will be problems. Only smokers will understand. Without cigarettes, it will be a huge burden for them,” he said.


Alcohol was listed as non-essential and thus was banned from being sold which made some sense in the current pandemic scenario. Then we have cigarettes which were also listed as non-essential but it was allowed to be sold to cater for “cigarette addicts”. If one follows the same logic, then shouldn’t the sale of alcohol be allowed to cater for “alcohol addicts”?

Logic reasons aside, it also seems to appear that the decision making is also influenced by blind religious norms since Muslims don’t drink alcohol but smokes cigarettes. So despite cigarettes classified as non-essentials, it is not “haram” in the eyes of the Muslims.

The Right Shoot By Harith

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This weird decision by the Government was not only illogical but also made as the butt of a good joke. Harith Iskander, a well-known comedian also found the decision comical and he made a very funny nailing the same point that others also asked.

Which Is Deadlier – Real Statistics

Whilst the short-minded politicians and twisted religious zealots will argue for a total ban of alcohols but keep their mouth tight shut on cigarettes, the question remains – which of these is deadlier and caused more deaths?

Alcohol Cigarette Tobacco Statistic Our World In Data

You don’t have to be an Einstein to know that smoking even moderately is harmful to health compared to a glass of wine which, on the other hand, is contributing to positive health. These 2017 statistics show that the risk from smoking is almost 3 times more than alcohol. Around the world. Data source: Our World In Data

Alcohol Cigarette Tobacco Statistic Our World In Data

If one zooms down to the statistics to Malaysia, the risk from smoking is even higher at a factor of 4 compared to taking alcohol. The only known risk of alcoholism in Malaysia has been notable when there are deaths from drunken driving. Data source: Our World In Data

WHO Alcohol Smoking Cigarette Lung COVID19

Does the Government want cigarette addicts to die faster? Their decision to allow cigarettes to be sold despite it not being non-essential during a global pandemic seems to imply the so. Poster source: WHO

Final Say

Both alcohol and cigarettes are classified as non-essentials but why one is allowed to be sold whilst another is stopped from being sold? This decision is made nonsensical by the fact that smoking carries a higher risk to health in light of the COVID19 pandemic:-

Current evidence suggests that the severity of COVID-19 disease is higher among smokers. Smoking impairs lung function, making it more difficult for the body to fight off respiratory disease due to the new coronavirus.

Tobacco users have a higher risk of being infected with the virus through the mouth while smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products. If smokers contract the COVID-19 virus, they face a greater risk of getting a severe infection as their lung health is already compromised.


It seems that it is now had become a rash decision that is made without any logical thoughts backed by probably selfish, arrogant people who cared less about the impact of health than to meet their own nicotine addiction.

P.s. don’t expect this to be the last dumb decision from the politicians during this pandemic nightmare.

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