People wish for themselves and their children to live happy and healthy lives. But secondhand harm due to alcohol impacts everyone negatively, damaging health and well-being and reducing the quality of life.
In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at La Trobe University quantified the secondhand harm due to alcohol in Australia.
They found that over two-thirds of Australians have been harmed by secondhand effects due to alcohol. The total cost amounted to AUD$19.81 billion, in 2016. This includes tangible costs of $11.45 billion and intangible costs of $8.36 billion.
The study used a national general population survey of 2649 adults and used response agencies’ data to quantify different costs of alcohol’s secondhand harm, such as health care; social services; crime costs; costs of productivity loss; quality of life-year loss and other expenses.
The study found that bystanders bear almost 90% of the costs of harm caused by others’ alcohol use, while the government footed the rest of the bill.
The cost of the harm caused to others is about the same as the cost of the harm caused by alcohol users to themselves and to response agencies serving them. This brings the total cost of the alcohol burden in Australia to about $40 billion.
The burden to others from [alcohol use] is of the same general magnitude as the burden that [alcohol users] impose on themselves and on response agencies serving them,” said Dr. Jason Jiang, from La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.
This distinguishes alcohol from tobacco, for instance, where the burden of health harm to the smoker is much greater than the burden of second-hand smoke,” he added.Dr. Jason Jiang, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University
A groundbreaking report showed already in 2015/ 2016 that the total burden of alcohol harm is bigger than the burden due to tobacco harm because of the big social – or secondhand – harm that alcohol causes.
From the research report of the series “Alcohol and Society” produced by IOGT-NTO and the Swedish Society of Medicine, in collaboration with some of the world’s leading scientists in the field.
- When the secondhand harms are added to the direct harms to alcohol users, the total harm due to alcohol is about double that of tobacco.
|Lost productivity due to caring for an alcohol user||$2.93b|
|Child protection due to an adult carer’s alcohol use||$1.61b|
|Time seeking services||$573.55m|
|Impact on co-workers of alcohol users||$414.98m|
|Public spending on services||$130.62m|
|Loss of quality of life||$7.99b|
|Property and belongings damage and other expenses||$4.72b|
|Government spending on services||$2.10m|
Alcohol harm is pervasive and a societal matter
The study illustrates the strong case for improved alcohol policy solutions in Australia. For example, common-sense limits on alcohol availability should address the rapidly growing alcohol online sale and delivery. As Movendi International has previously reported, on-demand alcohol delivery is posing a significant threat to the health and well-being of Australian children.
Increasing excise taxes on alcohol or other pricing measures are also important solutions to protect more people and communities more effectively from alcohol harm by tackling the cheap alcohol problem in the country.
Rampant alcohol marketing in Australia needs to be better regulated by an independent body as self-regulation by the alcohol industry has proven to fail.
The findings make a strong case for an active role of governments in reducing burdens that [alcohol use] causes to non-users or bystanders, including active intervention in alcohol markets to reduce these externalities,” said Dr. Jason Jiang, from La Trobe University’s Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, as per La Trobe University News.Dr. Jason Jiang, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, La Trobe University
The Sydney Morning Herald: “Alcohol harm to bystanders ‘costs Australia $20 billion a year’“
La Trobe University: “‘Alcohol bystanders” burden revealed“