Global Trends on Alcohol and Tobacco Use

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Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. (28 Fundamental Beliefs, 2015) [1]

Our recent blog examined global diet trends within the Adventist Church. Today we go one step further by examining church members’ habits when it comes to the use of alcohol and tobacco. According to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, the Adventist Church promotes complete abstinence from tobacco and alcohol products, as these are harmful to our bodies, as well as to our minds.

On August 23, 2018  The Lancet[2], a leading scientific journal originating in the UK, published a groundbreaking study that confirmed what Adventists have been advocating for years: that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. This study also found that:

  1. Alcohol is a major factor in global mortality and disease burden and the highest risk factor for those aged 19-45.
  2. All-cause mortality was associated with any level of alcohol use.
  3. Risk of many types of cancers increased with any level of alcohol use.
  4. The authors confirmed that there was no safe level of alcohol use! The level of alcohol intake that most reduces mortality risks is “zero” intake.
  5. The chart on page 11 of the article clearly shows that even a half a glass of alcohol beverage a day has a measurable impact on increased mortality.
  6. Any cardiac health benefits from low-level alcohol use is far outweighed by increased cancer risks and many specific types of cardiac risks.
  7. The authors note, “These results suggest that alcohol control policies might need to be revised worldwide, refocusing on efforts to lower overall population-level consumption.” This has huge implications for policy and public health approaches that must be changed despite the vested interests of the massively profitable and influential alcohol industry. (General Conference Adventist Health Ministries, n.d.)

Adventist church members who participated in the 2018 Global Church Member Survey (GCMS) survey were asked how often they used alcohol in the last 12 months (Q47). While it is encouraging that a large majority (91%) of respondents shared that they had not used alcohol in that time frame, it is concerning that 9% of respondents admitted to alcohol consumption in the last year.

Additionally, tobacco usage is also a concern, as research has shown that tobacco usage can cause a plethora of health issues.[3] According to the Center for Disease Control (2018), smoking alone can increase the risk:

  • For coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • For stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
  • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times

In view of coming the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, we are also sharing data on tobacco usage by church members. Even with the statistics readily available on tobacco harm, when GCMS respondents were asked about their tobacco use (in any form) in the last 12 months (Q48), 2.8% of survey participants said that they had used tobacco in that time frame. Fortunately, the remaining 97.2% had not.

It is concerning that even while the Adventist Church teaches abstinence from alcohol and tobacco products, and scientific research shows that they can cause numerous health concerns, some church members around the world are using them. This data calls our attention to the importance of applying health principles to our personal lives and sharing them with the church and community. Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).


For more data on the 2018 GCMS look at the following presentation by Dr. David Trim from the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research:

2018 Annual Council - Global Church Member Survey Data Report | [Watch Video] 


Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.