TORONTO – Smoking is responsible for a devastating healthcare burden in Canada, according to a Conference Board of Canada study published today. The study says that smoking causes more than 45,000 deaths in Canada annually, which is nearly 1 in 5 of all deaths (18.4%) in the country. Smoking also causes a massive $6.5 billion in direct health care costs and $16.2 billion in total economic costs, including healthcare costs. The study was based on data for the 2012 year.
“Federal and provincial governments should respond aggressively to the staggering toll that tobacco inflicts on Canadian society,” says Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Cancer Society. “In particular, Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor should ensure that the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy is greatly strengthened and far better funded, and that plain and standardized packaging is implemented as soon as possible.”
The Conference Board study found that the health burden from tobacco was significantly higher in 2012 than a decade earlier. There were an estimated 45,464 deaths caused by smoking in 2012, up from 37,209 deaths caused by smoking in 2002. Direct healthcare costs were $6.5 billion in 2012, up from $4.4 billion in 2002.
The increased number of deaths from 2002 to 2012 was influenced by a number of factors, even though smoking prevalence declined over the decade. These factors include a growing and aging population. Also, several new health effects of smoking were taken into account that were not included in 2002, given the increased knowledge of smoking-related diseases. Newly added health effects of smoking include colorectal cancer and liver cancer (5,217 deaths); influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis (1,248 deaths); and diabetes mellitus (192 deaths).
The study includes a provincial breakdown for smoking-related deaths and health care costs.