UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

A cost-benefit/cost-effectiveness analysis of an unsanctioned supervised smoking facility in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada Jozaghi, Ehsan; Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users


Background: Smoking crack involves the risk of transmitting diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). The current study determines whether the formerly unsanctioned supervised smoking facility (SSF)—operated by the grassroot organization, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) for the last few years—costs less than the costs incurred for health-care services as a direct consequence of not having such a program in Vancouver, Canada. Methods: The data pertaining to the attendance at the SSF was gathered in 2012–2013 by VANDU. By relying on this data, a mathematical model was employed to estimate the number of HCV infections prevented by the former facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). Results: The DTES SSF’s benefit-cost ratio was conservatively estimated at 12.1:1 due to its low operating cost. The study used 70% and 90% initial pipe-sharing rates for sensitivity analysis. At 80% sharing rate, the marginal HCV cases prevented were determined to be 55 cases. Moreover, at 80% sharing rate, the marginal cost-effectiveness ratio ranges from $1,705 to $97,203. The results from both the baseline and sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the establishment of the SSF by VANDU on average had annually saved CAD$1.8 million dollars in taxpayer’s money. Conclusions: Funding SSFs in Vancouver is an efficient and effective use of financial resources in the public health domain; therefore, Vancouver Coastal Health should actively participate in their establishment in order to reduce HCV and other blood-borne infections such as HIV within the non-injecting drug users.

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