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Economic impacts

The economic impacts of alcohol can usually be split into 2 categories; benefits and costs. The economic benefits alcohol brings to society can be measured by the revenues generated in both the on and off-trade from the sales of alcoholic beverages locally, which in turn the Treasury receives a proportion of by taxation of company profits. They are also represented in the number of jobs created within any region where alcoholic beverages are produced and also indirectly for those who distribute alcohol as a commodity.

These benefits may be more straightforward to calculate than some of the costs. There are uncertainties and disagreements about what should be included as a cost and how costs are to be measured. There are a number of different methodologies that can be employed in estimating economic costs, and these can have different implications for policy.

In alcohol policy, costs are typically framed in terms of harm to the individual and the wider society. This allows policymakers to focus on the tangible factors that justify government intervention in order to be remedied, such as the costs to the health service of treating alcohol-related disease, and to the criminal justice system of dealing with alcohol related crime and disorder. However, the lack of a definitive set of 'costs' criteria means that there is no single figure representing the cost of alcohol consumption to the UK.

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