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Alcohol and tobacco still our most deadly drugs

24 June 2008 Media Statement

Alcohol and tobacco still our most deadly drugs

Illegal drugs cost our society a lot, but their harm is dwarfed by that caused by legal drugs - alcohol and tobacco, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"I made that clear when I released the BERL research showing illegal drugs caused $1.3 billion of social harm at the beginning of May. New Zealand as a society needs to act to reduce harm caused by drugs - legal and illegal."

Jim Anderton said alcohol was "far and away" our most destructive drug.

"If you ask the police, or medical authorities, about the times they are called in to crises, or to accidents, to clean up human harm they will tell you that alcohol is almost invariably involved. "According to the Ministry of Health, the social costs of alcohol misuse total between $1.5 billion and $2.4 billion a year." He said tobacco caused about 4700 deaths each year, also extremely damaging to our society. "If any other drug caused that number of deaths, there would be rioting in the streets. So why do we make alcohol legal, when it causes much more damage than any other drug? Why can we buy tobacco, a killer drug, at the corner dairy?"


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