Cost of alcohol to society

Costs outweigh revenue from alcohol tax

The revenue that the Government receives from alcohol taxes does not come close to matching the costs of alcohol-related harm to our society. 

In 2023, alcohol contributed approximately $1.29 billion of government revenue in the form of excise tax.

In contrast, alcohol misuse is estimated to cost New Zealand society $9.1 billion each year.

Over half of this 'cost of harm' is attributed to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) ($4.8 billion), and the rest is due to non-disordered alcohol use ($3.1 billion), and alcohol use disorder ($1.2 billion). The overall estimate includes costs resulting from lost productivity and unemployment, alongside justice, health, ACC, welfare costs, etc. 

Costs of alcohol harm exceed that of other drug harm.

Cost to society

It is estimated that, in 2023:

  • Alcohol-related harm costs impacted the health system more than other Government sectors, amounting to at least $766 million in 2023
  • The fiscal cost of incarceration for alcohol-attributable impulsive crime was between $57,398,022 and $424,717,521
  • Alcohol-attributable road crashes cost over $2 billion (of which loss of life & loss of quality of life due to permanent disability were the main contributors)
  • Alcohol-attributable intimate partner violence cases cost $280,549,04
  • Alcohol-attributable child maltreatment cost $73,981,541

Cost to productivity

Alcohol also results in major productivity losses, as shown by estimated costs associated with the following causes in 2023: 

  • Premature mortality: between $343,840,396 and $416,715,189
  • Incarceration: between $3,335,292 an $7,417,869
  • Absenteeism and presenteeism: Over $3 billion