Australians spend $51 bn on drinking, smoking and drugs

April 9th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by admin  

Canberra, April 9 (Xinhua) The Australian government said in a report Wednesday that smoking, drinking and drugs has costs Australia A$56 billion ($51.5 billion) a year. The report, released by Health Minister Nicola Roxon in Melbourne, showed that in 2004-2005, the social cost of alcohol was $15.3 billion, tobacco use was $31.5 billion and illicit drugs $8.2 billion.

Roxon described the figures as “staggering” and announced that the task force would develop strategies to address the issue.

“That’s an enormous amount of money and that’s not just the health cost to individuals or to the health system, it’s also the flow-on costs in terms of crime, lost productivity at work, people taking time off to care for others,” she said.

“So it’s a very detailed analysis and a reminder to us of why it’s so important to focus on prevention, why we need to be vigilant in our battle against tobacco, why we need to have more focus on excessive consumption of alcohol, and why we need to continue to make sure that there is a strong battle that we fight on all fronts against illicit drug use,” she added.

Roxon said it would take many years to change people’s attitudes towards preventive illnesses, but the time was ripe for a new approach.

“I think the time is right for there to be a real shift in community thinking about the way we handle some of our health problems,” she said.

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