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Remark: Alcohol costs more than our armies

A variety of figures and comparisons are used to illustrate the harm caused by alcohol, which can often be difficult to comprehend.

Last week a new systematic review was published: What are the Economic Costs to Society Attributable to Alcohol Use? by Jacob Manthey, Jürgen Rehm and others. The study found that “if all cost components were to be considered, the economic costs of alcohol consumption would amount to 1306 international dollars (Int$) per adult, 1872 Int$ per drinker, or equivalent to 2.6% of the gross domestic product.”

While we can all understand the value of these dollars to our families, the more substantial figure is that 2.6% of GDP. How much does that figure mean?

Let’s look at the State budgets and, more importantly to defence costs. Based on the 2006 decision, NATO member countries agreed to commit a minimum of 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defence spending to continue to ensure the Alliance’s military readiness. Most NATO countries appear to have a difficult task in fulfilling that commitment. Yet, we all see how expensive our defence expenditures are. 2.6% is an unacceptable percentage for our societies to pay for alcohol, which poses a serious threat to our domestic security.

Saving money should be desirable to everyone if countries otherwise lack the incentive to address drinking problems. And this is where we could save a lot.

Lauri Beekmann
Executive director, NordAN