Alcohol causes a considerable criminal burden on the Canadian society. The purpose of this study is to estimate the avoidable burden and avoidable costs of alcohol-attributable criminality in Canada for the year 2002.
The impact of the following six alcohol policy interventions relative to baseline costs obtained from the Second Canadian Cost Study (a cost-of-illness study) were modelled: taxation increases, lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit from 0.08% to 0.05%, zero BAC restriction for all drivers under the age of 21, increasing the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) from 19 to 21 years, a Safer Bars intervention, and brief interventions. In addition to the six interventions that reduce alcohol consumption, we also modelled one intervention that could increase alcohol consumption and alcohol-attributable costs: the change from a government monopoly to privatized alcohol sales. The effect of these interventions was modelled for the Canadian population older than 15 years of age with the exception of BAC restriction and MLDA, which were modelled for the age group 19-21.
Results revealed that the intervention which appears to be most effective in preventing drinking and driving incidents in Canada was lowering the BAC level. This intervention was estimated to reduce this type of alcohol-attributable crime compared with the baseline scenario by 19.1%. The Safer Bars programme was found to be the most effective measure to avoid homicide and other violent crimes (reductions of 3.4% were observed). Brief interventions were observed as the most effective measure to avoid other alcohol-attributable criminal activities, estimated at reducing them by 2.6%. The results also indicated that substantial increases in all types of criminality examined in this study could occur if all Canadian provinces were to privatize alcohol sales.
This study demonstrates that the implementation of proven effective population-based interventions can reduce alcohol-attributable criminal burden and its costs to the Canadian society to a considerable degree.
British Columbia (BC), Canada, is home to a large illegal cannabis industry that is known to contribute to substantial organized crime concerns. Although debates have emerged regarding the potential benefits of a legally regulated market to address a range of drug policy-related social problems, the value of the local (i.e., domestically consumed) cannabis market has not been characterized.
Monte Carlo simulation methods were used to generate a median value and 95% credibility interval for retail expenditure estimates of the domestic cannabis market in BC. Model parameter estimates were obtained for the number of cannabis users, the frequency of cannabis use, the quantity of cannabis used, and the price of cannabis from government surveillance data and studies of BC cannabis users.
The median annual estimated retail expenditure on cannabis by British Columbians was $407 million (95% Credibility Interval [CI]: $169-948 million). Daily users accounted for the bulk of the cannabis revenue, with a median estimated expenditure of approximately $357 million (95% CI: $149-845 million), followed by weekly users ($44 million, 95% CI: $18-90 million), and monthly users ($6 million, 95% CI: $3-12 million). When under-reporting of cannabis use was adjusted for, the estimated retail expenditure ranged from $443 million (95% CI: $185-1 billion) to $564 million (95% CI: $236-1.3 billion).
Based on local consumption patterns, conservative estimates suggest that BC's domestic illegal cannabis trade is worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Given the value of this market and the failure and harms of law enforcement efforts to control the cannabis market, policymakers should consider regulatory alternatives.
From 1980 to 1994, the Canadian government enacted major tax increases on tobacco products. These actions initiated significant tobacco smuggling from the United States into Canada through a few U.S. Native American reservations to undercut the price of Canadian tobacco products. The tobacco industry blamed rampant smuggling on excessive taxation; however, research shows that the tobacco industry had actually promoted smuggling schemes to both increase profits and provide an argument for tobacco taxation reduction. Although the smuggling has resulted in numerous U.S. and Canadian criminal convictions of tobacco industry officials and partners, significant smuggling continues throughout the world. For the few Native Americans involved, the smuggling was lucrative and they were able to avoid criminal prosecution through tribal sovereignty. Industry-supported tobacco smuggling has had a profoundly negative effect on Canadian public health that must be brought to light to prevent future similar occurrences.