Cost of alcohol to society

Costs outweigh revenue from alcohol

The revenue the Government receives from alcohol taxes does not match the costs of alcohol-related harm to our society. 

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In 2017, alcohol contributed $1.0 billion of government revenue in the form of excise tax [17].

Alcohol misuse is estimated to cost New Zealand society $5 billion each year (expressed in 2005/06 currency) [18]. This includes costs to individuals such as car insurance, lost wages and medical treatments, as well as cost to the government such as healthcare costs, road crashes, police and justice [18].

In comparison to alcohol, the social cost of other drug-related harms and intervention is estimated to be at $1.6 billion (expressed in 2005/06 currency) [18] and $1.8 billion in 2014/15 [19].

It is estimated that :

  • 11% of all ACC claims are attributed to alcohol-related injuries [20].
  • 18% of the New Zealand Police budget is spent on alcohol incidents.

Cost to productivity

Alcohol also results in loss of productivity in workplaces and schools -

  • In 2012/13, male drinkers (4%) were 1.6 times more likely to be absent from work or studies than female drinkers (2.5%) [15]; and
  • In 2012/13, male drinkers (6.9%) were 1.4 times more likely to experience negative financial effects due to their drinking than female drinkers [15].
  • Every year, 147,500 adults take one or more days off work or school due to their alcohol use [21]. A total of 84,400 adults have experienced harmful effects on their work, study or employment because of alcohol [21].
  • In 2012, 6% of adolescent drinkers report having their work or school affected in the last year due to alcohol [22]. Among those students living in the most deprived areas, 8% report problems with work or school (exacerbating existing inequities in outcomes) [22].

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