AIMS, DESIGN AND SETTING: The economic costs of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs in Canadian society in 1992 are estimated utilizing a cost-of-illness framework and recently developed international guidelines.
Measurements: For causes of disease or death (using ICD-9 categories), pooled relative risk estimates from meta-analyses are combined with prevalence data by age, gender and province to derive the proportion attributable to alcohol, tobacco and/or illicit drugs. The resulting estimates of attributable deaths and hospitalizations are used to calculate associated health care, law enforcement, productivity and other costs. The results are compared wit other studies, and sensitivity analyses are conducted on alternative measures of alcohol consumption, alternative discount rates for productivity costs and the use of diagnostic-specific hospitalization costs.
Findings: The misuse of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs cost more than $18.4 billion in Canada in 1992, representing $649 per capita or 2.7% of GDP. Alcohol accounts for approximately $7.52 billion in costs, including $4.14 billion for lost productivity, $1.36 billion for law enforcement and $1.30 billion in direct health care costs. Tobacco accounts for approximately $9.56 billion in costs, including $6.82 billion for lost productivity and $2.68 billion for direct health costs. The economic of illicit drugs are estimated at $1.4 billion.
Conclusions: Substance abuse exacts a considerable toll to Canadian society in terms of illness, injury, death and economic costs.