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Int J Drug Policy. 2011 Mar;22(2):109-19. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2010.10.008. Epub 2011 Jan 15.

Avoidable alcohol-attributable criminality and its costs due to selected interventions in Canada.

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Public Health and Regulatory Policies, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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