Canada’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health has released a six-point plan to reduce the fiscal impact of alcohol abuse, which the report says costs every Canadian $463 annually, the CBC News reported June 11.
The Avoidable Cost of Alcohol Abuse in Canada 2002 report said that six public policy steps could save 800 lives and $1 billion annually.
- increasing taxes on alcohol (the study proposed a 25-percent increase);
- lowering the blood-alcohol concentration standard from .08 percent to .05 percent;
- implementing a zero-tolerance policy on BAC levels for drivers under the age of 21;
- increasing the minimum legal drinking age from 19 to 21;
- increasing enforcement aimed at public intoxication and underage drinking; and
- boosting counseling with at-risk drinkers in doctors’ offices.
Projected cost savings include $561 million in lower productivity losses, $230 million in reduced healthcare costs, and $187 million in crime-related costs.
“It’s clear that the largest impact would come from interventions affecting the level of drinking in general such as brief interventions and increasing alcohol taxation,” said CAMH senior scientist Dr. Jürgen Rehm. “However, the greatest overall cost avoidance would be achieved when multiple rather than single … alcohol interventions are implemented as part of a comprehensive alcohol policy.”