MADISON (WKOW) -- A new report says Wisconsin spends more money each year on alcohol abuse than on education.
$6.8 billion is the annual cost of alcohol abuse in health care, lost productivity, crime and premature death, according to the study by the non-profit group, 'Health First Wisconsin'.
The group used a national study of the estimated economic cost of alcohol abuse and Wisconsin's proportion of binge drinkers to reach its findings.
"Changing our culture is hard. It will be difficult. But the cost to stand idly by on the sidelines is far too great. We must demand change, and we must move Wisconsin forward," said study presenter Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW Hospital and Clinics.
The report also highlighted the fact that Wisconsin's alcohol tax collections pale in comparison to the enormous costs to businesses and taxpayers.
In 2011, Wisconsin collected $69 million in alcohol taxes, merely 1 percent of the $6.8 billion in economic costs attributed to excessive alcohol use.