Health the casualty of Coles and Woolies alcohol price war

The real cost of the alcohol price war is the damage heavy drinking does to public health and the social fabric. Rick Audet

In recent days, Woolworths and Coles have put out a flurry of media releases, each staking a claim to being the cheapest place to buy alcohol this summer. Coles have “declared war” on liquor prices and the Woolworths-owned Dan Murphy’s chain has fired back a response.

For the consumer, this all sounds like great news – an alcohol price war in the lead-up to Christmas. But for public health and safety, it’s worth thinking about the real cost of discounted drinks.

Beyond price

Recent estimates put the social cost of alcohol in Australia at around $36 billion a year. Approximately half of these costs come from harms experienced by people other than the drinker.