Cost of Alcohol Misuse Double Govt Revenue
4 April 2013 at 11:00 am
The cost to society from alcohol harm and misuse in Australia is double that raised in tax and excise revenue by the Federal Government, according to a new study by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).
And it recommends that Not for Profits should be funded to provided alcohol diversion programs.
The societal costs of alcohol misuse in Australia, written by researchers at Griffith University, found that the total cost to society of alcohol-related problems in 2010 was estimated to be $14,352 billion. The Commonwealth raised ($7.075b) in total tax revenue in 2010 from alcohol products through excise and GST revenue.
And the paper proposes that a reasonable proportion of the government revenue generated from alcohol taxation be directed to diversion and prevention strategies to be offered by Not for Profit organisations.
The report says the cost estimate includes costs to the criminal justice system, costs to the health system, costs resulting from lost productivity and costs included with respect to alcohol-related road accidents.
However, the report says this estimate does not include the indirect costs such as pain and suffering, which could conceivably more than double this estimate.
“It is recognised that not all of these costs can be mitigated by government policy. For example, productivity losses associated with premature death are a sizeable component of the total cost estimates,” the report said.
“While governments cannot resurrect those individuals experiencing a premature death as a result of alcohol misuse, they can take action to reduce such premature deaths from occurring in the future.
“Rather than relying on charitable organisations (eg Salvation Army, Mission Australia, Lifeline) to deal with a significant proportion of the effects of alcohol misuse, it is proposed that a reasonable proportion of the government revenue generated from alcohol taxation be directed to diversion and prevention strategies.
“Such strategies might be implemented in partnership with the above-mentioned organisations or with similar community groups in order to enhance their cost-effectiveness and uptake.
“Alternatively, such strategies might be implemented within existing public health agencies following a significant diversion to them of additional budget and resources from this alcohol-related tax revenue,” it said.
The report recommends that when patients (or offenders) present at hospitals (or courts) for alcohol-related treatments (or matters), they could be referred on to a government-funded or implemented prevention program as a highly recommended complement to their outpatient follow-up requirements (or release from custodial sentence).
The report said that such a policy shift, however, needs to be transparent with a long-term commitment from a government interested in pursuing sustainable change.
“Further, robust economic analyses focusing on the costs and benefits of prevention compared with diversion and/or treatment are required to demonstrate to policymakers the value of directing resources to early prevention.”