$7.8 billion a year on booze – $2.2 billion all up on the Treaty


The harm caused by alcohol abuse in New Zealand is $7.8 billion annually compared to $2.2b spent on Treaty of Waitangi settlements since the 1990s says Berl principal economist Ganesh Nana.

“Lost production of labour is costing us $3.3b a year, health costs combined with road crashes $860 million and alcohol-fuelled crime $1.1b a year.”

The remaining billions were down to “intangible costs” such as deaths, and reduced life quality, he said.

The statistics do not factor in “intergenerational harm”, which could push the number higher still.

Nana presented these statistics at a conference in Wellington organised by Alcohol Action and Massey University’s Shore and Whariki Research Centre

It was looking at who should pay for the harm alcohol causes.

Nana warned the figures e was using were old – from a 2009 to 2010 study using 2005 to 2006 data – but said medical evidence suggested things had worsened.

Another economist from Melbourne,  John Marsden said research showed 60 percent of people were moderate drinkers, while light and heavy drinkers made up 20 percent each.

Heavy drinkers accounted for three-quarters of alcohol sales.

“They’re not paying for the cost of policing, they’re not paying for the cost of accident and emergencies, they’re not paying for the cost of the courts, they’re not paying for the longer term health effects such as foetal alcohol syndrome…they’re not paying for the cost of the cancers.”

New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council executive director Nick Leggett has disagreed with what he calls the “anti-alcohol lobby”

The statistics came from “debunked” methodology. New Zealanders were now drinking less than ever before and starting drinking later, he said.

Eric Crampton, from think tank NZ Initiative, said many of Nana’s figures were based on the 2009 study which had been mocked in economic circles for things such as double-counting and counting factors that shouldn’t be counted.

NZ Initiative does include alcohol sellers, including Lion and Countdown as members, most of its members do not appear to be in the alcohol industry.


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News category: New Zealand.