“Cocaine isn't expensive. A line, whether it's 0.1 or 0.2 grams, comes in at about 15 to 20 Swiss francs, or about the same as a cinema ticket.”
There are the words of Franck Zobel, the deputy director of Addiction Suisse, an independent organisation looking at health issues surrounding drug use.
His comment come in the wake of a key new study partly conducted by his organisation into stimulant use in Switzerland.
That study shows cocaine is by far the most popular stimulant in the country, making up around four fifths of the total market.
“With the exception of cannabis, the market for cocaine is bigger than that of all other drugs combined,” said Zobel.
The study examined the size and nature of the cocaine market in the canton of Vaud, which is considered a microcosm of Switzerland as a whole with its urban centre and rural areas.
By extrapolating the results from Vaud to the rest of Switzerland, study authors estimated five tonnes of cocaine is consumed in Switzerland every year. That is around 13.7 kilograms a day.
Around 100,000 to 150,000 people are thought to take the drug with some 20 percent of 'problem' users accounting for 80 percent of all consumption.
The results are based on testing of wastewater for the presence of benzoylecgonine, which is excreted in the urine of cocaine users, and on the ongoing interviews with around 11,000 people on their drug habits.
Those interviews, conducted by telephone, showed there is no typical profile for cocaine users.
The study showed cocaine purity was only about 40 percent in the canton of Vaud. The drug is often cut with baby milk formula and other substances including the deworming medication levamisole and the pain and fever medication phenacetin.
The cocaine market is thought to be worth 47–57 million francs a year in Vaud with profits for distributors and dealers at 28–39 million francs a year.
Street dealers can expect to take home somewhere in the range of 34 to 78 francs an hour, the study's authors estimate.
The Addiction Suisse study aims to promote debate about health and legal issues surrounding cocaine use and the cocaine market in Switzerland.