German Lopez via Vox:
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Don’t believe it? The available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows tobacco, alcohol, and opioid-based prescription painkillers were responsible for more direct deaths than any other drug in 2011. This chart compares those drug deaths with the best available data for cocaine, heroin, and marijuana deaths [show above].
Now, this chart isn’t a perfect comparison across the board. One driver of tobacco and alcohol deaths is that both substances are legal and easily available. Other substances would likely be far deadlier if they were as available as tobacco and alcohol. (Heroin-linked deaths in particular have been trending up since 2010, topping 8,200 in 2013 and making heroin deadlier overall than cocaine.) And federal data excludes some deaths, particularly less direct illicit drug deaths, which is why the chart focuses on direct health complications for all drugs.