The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) has released a response to the Institute of Economics Affairs’ (IEA) recent discussion paper, ‘Alcohol and the Public Purse’. The IEA’s report estimates the costs to the government resulting from drinking and compares this to the revenue that alcohol taxes generate to argue that drinkers subsidise non-drinkers.

The IAS’ response, by contrast, argues that:

  • Alcohol and the Public Purse’ addresses an excessively narrow question, ignoring social and economic costs that must, ultimately, be borne by somebody
  • Framing the issue as a balance of fiscal costs and benefits misses the point that it is better to avoid the costs in the first place
  • The neglect of private costs undermine the IEA’s claim that drinkers are subsidising non-drinkers
  • Though the IEA is correct that it is vitally important to avoid conflating fiscal and economic costs, press reporting of the study encourages similar confusion
  • The IEA make methodological judgements that are likely to have understated the full cost of alcohol to the state

Download the full response here.