Nice piece at CiF trying to point out that there\’s value to the consumption of booze as well as costs. However, we can sharpen up this a little:
There are personal and social benefits too, although it is by definition difficult to put a numerical value on them: how much is a glass of champagne at a wedding worth, or a few pints down the pub with your friends?
Difficult but we can make a start.
We at least know what the lower bound is.
The value to the person purchasing the alcohol of purchasing the alcohol must be higher than the amount they spend on purchasing the alcohol. If it weren\’t, then they wouldn\’t purchase the alcohol now, would they?
Now yes, this might be diminished by the costs they also bear in cirrhosis, drunken fights and waking up to one of the Two Fat Slags on vomit stained pillows. And it would be right to take those costs into account as well. But as our first order estimate of the consumer benefit of alcohol our lower bound simply cannot be any lower than the amount that people are willing to spend on purchasing alcohol.
The BBC tells me that this number is £38 billion a year.
The UK alcohol market also enjoyed the biggest rise in value, with sales estimated at £38bn – up 15% since 1999.
That\’s a fairly large number to put against that £2.7 billion a year cost to the NHS (however strangely calculated that was).
That the consumption of alcohol has both costs and benefits is obvious: for there are such to everything. But if we\’re going to try and work out whether something is worth it we do need to include the benefits as well as the costs.