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NotificationsNotify me of updates to COSTS OF ALCOHOL MISUSE IN ENGLAND pp. 209-225
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Authors:  (Abiodun Olukoga, Graham Lister, Richard Fordham, Miranda Mugford, Edward Wilson and Dominic McVey, School of Medicine, Health Policy & Practice, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, and others)
Alcoholic drinks are a valued consumer item and an aid to sociability—less than
10% of adults in England do not drink alcohol. It is therefore essential to distinguish the
misuse of alcohol from general consumption. Alcohol misuse is taken as drinking above
the recommended weekly limit of 21 units of alcohol per week for a man and 14 units for
a woman. By this standard, 30% of adult men and 17% of women report that their weekly
consumption is above the recommended level; this is over 9 million people in England.
Expenditure on alcoholic drinks in England in 2005 is estimated at £32 billion, split
among beer, wine, spirits and fortified wines, cider and other drinks. During the past 10
years, “alcopops” (a variety of ready-to-drink mixes designed to appeal to younger
people) were the fastest-growing subsector. Total alcohol consumption has increased by
more than 60% in the last 30 years, and latest figures suggest that consumption has risen
to the equivalent of 9.5 litres of pure alcohol per capita per year, higher than most other
EU countries. Consumption of alcohol is 60% higher for men than for women; however,
the highest rates of growth in consumption are among young people 16 to 24 years old.
Alcohol consumption in this group grew by about 65% from 1993–2003, with fastest
growth among young women. Alcohol consumption in England accounts for about a third
of household expenditure on food and drink. It generates some £11.75 b in tax from
excise duty and VAT.
A current analysis of the full social economic and social costs of alcohol misuse
identifies a total of £49 billion costs, including intangible social costs to society of £16
billion, costs to individuals and families of £23 billion, costs to employers of £2 billion,
costs to public services of £6 billion and incapacity and income support costs of £2
billion. There are also tax receipts of some £3 billion attributable to excess alcohol
Current evidence of the cost effectiveness of alcohol harm prevention measures in
England and Scotland suggests that action on the legal minimum drinking age, blood
alcohol laws, lower limits for young drivers and selective breath testing are effective in
reducing road traffic injuries and deaths. Interventions aimed at training bar staff also
shows evidence of effectiveness in reducing drunkenness. 

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