STUDY OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to estimate the health and social costs of tobacco use in Ontario, Canada. DESIGN: This was a cost-benefit analysis based on cross sectional data in 1988, stratified by age and sex, using an attributable risk model. The total cost of the consequences of tobacco use in the society included those costs attributed to extra deaths, disability, hospitalisation, physician visits, and fire losses, from tobacco use. PARTICIPANTS: The general population of Ontario, Canada. MAIN RESULTS: The total cost of tobacco use in Ontario, Canada in 1988 was estimated to be $3.623 billion--$721 million more than the total customer expenditure on tobacco products. Tobacco use was also found to be responsible for 14% of all adult deaths, 5% of all adult disability days, 14% of all days of hospitalisation, and 3% of all physician visits. Compared with previous results for Ontario (1979) the cost of the consequences of tobacco use had increased by about 25% and consumer expenditure by about 35% over the period, while the excess of consequences over expenditure fell slightly by about 3%. CONCLUSIONS: The annual excess of the social costs of tobacco use over total consumer expenditure is staggering. It is suggested that similar cost-benefit analysis of smoking be carried out at regular intervals to monitor smoking trends in the society, to estimate health and social costs, and to provide information for the setting of targets for tobacco control and healthy public policies.
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