Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Australians Spend $56 Billion On Drinking, Smoking And Drugs

The Australian government said in a report on Wednesday that smoking, drinking and drugs has costs Australia 56 billion dollars (51.5 billion U.S. dollars) 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 dollars (14 billion U.S. dollars), tobacco use was 31.5 billion dollars (28.9 billion U.S. dollars) and illicit drugs 8.2 billion dollars (7.5 billion U.S. dollars), and illicit drugs acting together cost another 1.1 billion dollars (1 billion U.S. dollars).

Roxon described the figures as "staggering" and used them to announce that the task force will 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."

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. (Xinhua)

***** An honest assessment backed up by accurate statistics. What are the chances of our authorities revealing the harsh truth behind the scourge afflicting our population?
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