Drinking: Consumption and Harm
is much more than the price paid for a drink at the corner market or
in July 2008 a large gathering of public health experts, policymakers,
and community activitists ticked away in real time the incredible economic
costs ($1,200 per second) incidents of harm (100 per hour) and deaths
(1 per hour) associated with alcohol consumption in California. Alcohol
costs California $38 billion annually, far outpacing the costs of natural
disasters like earthquakes, fires, and mud slides in California. And
unlike natural disasters, which come along infrequently, the catastrophe
of alcohol in California happens annually, with devastating effects,
and can be prevented.
The cost is substantial, especially the cost of underage drinking.
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Institute of Medicine's landmark
report to Congress in September 2003, "Reducing Underage Drinking:
a Collective Responsibility" found that underage alcohol use costs
the nation an estimated $53 billion annually. The costs include: