A standard result in economics, albeit one that far too few people realise is a standard result, is that there's no such thing as a solution, there are only trade offs. We can have a little bit more of this at the cost of a little bit less of that and there are even things which approach a free lunch but very very few of them.
We can, for example, promote primary innovation by giving strong intellectual property rights to it but at the cost of, the stronger such rights, the derivative innovation that we've just banned. We can indeed make today's poor better off through redistribution but at the cost of those higher tax rates reducing future economic growth and thus making tomorrow, including tomorrow's poor, poorer than they need be.
This would seem to be a concept that public health peeps need to grasp:
There is strong evidence that alcohol causes seven types of cancer and probably others, according to a review that dismissed the claimed health benefits as "irrelevant".
A study of existing research found strong evidence of a direct, harmful effect of drinking, even though scientists are unsure of the exact biological reasons why alcohol causes cancer.
Writing in the journal Addiction, Jennie Connor, from the University of Otago in New Zealand, said alcohol was estimated to have caused about half a million deaths from cancer in 2012 alone - 5.8 percent of cancer deaths worldwide.
That alcohol causes cancer is interesting to know. But it is absolutely not true that any health benefits are irrelevant. They're actually the point. We know that there is a trade off here.
That trade off starting with the fact that none of us (as far as we know at least) The Virgin Mary, Elijah or others who ascended without dying. Death is thus going to come to us all. Not drinking and not getting those cancers (to the extent that not boozing only reduces those risks anyway, not eliminates them) only means that something else will kill us.
We thus want to know the balance of drinking and raising our changes of those cancers and drinking and lowering our chances of some other disease. Far from the health benefits being irrelevant they are the vital information we need to be able to make the trade off. For as we know, a solution, perfect health forever, is not granted to us in this vale of tears.
And, of course, we would also need to include in our trade off the knowledge that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy (yes, we know, Ben Franklin never actually said that) and more importantly that there is utility, in the alleviation of the troubles of this vale of tears, in the consumption of booze.
For that is what we''re all trying to do in this life, maximise our utility. Entirely true we can be on different sides of Pascal's Wager and thus the time span over which we are trying to maximise and thus take more or less note of religious prohibitions against the Demon Rum.
But even then it is the trade off in front of us which is the important thing, not the negative (nor, obviously, only the positive) effects that matter.
That skeleton with the scythe is coming for us all. Now, how do you want to fill in the time until then and which risks of what do you wish to run?
Other effects are not irrelevant to this point they are the essential beginning of the decision making process.