Smoking cost the Canadian economy an estimated $16.2 billion in direct and indirect expenses in 2012, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.
Those expenses included the direct cost of providing health care for the illnesses caused by smoking, as well as the indirect cost of lost production at work because of smoking-related deaths and disabilities.
The report, entitled The Costs of Tobacco Use in Canada, 2012, found the annual cost of providing health care to those made ill by smoking is an estimated $6.5 billion. That includes $3.8 billion for hospital care, $1.7 billion for prescription drugs, and $1.0 billion for physician care.
The indirect costs of smoking were related to lost production due to smoking, which the report estimates at $9.5 billion. Of that figure, $2.5 billion was lost to premature death, while $6.8 billion came from lost earnings due to smokers becoming permanently disabled by illness. Short-term disability amounted to another $182 million.
The report authors estimate that smoking causes more than 45,000 deaths in Canada every year. That’s approximately 125 Canadians smoking-related deaths every day.
Nearly one-quarter of deaths due to smoking-related illnesses occurred during a person’s working years, before they reached age 65.
Cancer accounted for 47 per cent of all 2012 deaths due to smoking, while cardiovascular disease led to another 28 per cent. Respiratory illnesses, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, caused another 22 per cent of smoking-related deaths.
The final cost in the $16.2-billion estimate related to costs of smoking-related fire damage, tobacco control, and enforcement of tobacco laws.
The report authors note that the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey found that more than 3.9 million Canadians smoked, including 2.8 million who smoked daily.
“Although much progress has been made in tobacco control across Canada, millions of Canadians continue to smoke,” the authors write.
“This study provides an updated estimate of the burden of disease that might be avoided through prevention and cessation of smoking.”
The report authors say they relied on data from Statistics Canada, Health Canada, the Public Helath Agency of Canada and elsewhere to make their estimates.
The report was prepared for the Tobacco Control Directorate of Health Canada.