The cost of booze, drugs, and cigarettes varies widely from country to country for many reasons. Some countries have the perfect climate for growing tobacco and cannabis, other countries specialize in distilling spirits like Gin and Vodka. There are governments that don’t crack down on the growth of plants used to cultivate illicit drugs and this can make those drugs a whole lot cheaper. And there are countries who might not make their own booze and drugs but they’re geographically located to benefit from the countries around them.
The Bloomberg Global Vice Index measures the cost of ‘vice goods’ around the world. They then rank countries by creating a theoretical ‘vice basket‘ of goods based on their average street values in the various countries. This ‘vice basket’ consists of (1) pack of cigarettes, (1) bottle of alcohol, (1) gram of amphetamine-type stimulants including methamphetamine or ecstasy, (1) gram of cannabis (including hashish or cannabis oil), (1) gram of cocaine, and (1) gram of opioids (including heroin or opium). Countries are then ranked on ‘Vice Basket’ cost as a % of the average weekly income in that country.
Here’s are the 15 cheapest countries in the world according to the values of their ‘vice basket’ based on the Bloomberg Global Vice Index:
1. Luxembourg (Vice Basket cost is 0.1% weekly income)
2. The Bahamas (Vice Basket cost is 0.159% weekly income)
3. Switzerland (Vice Basket cost is 0.166% weekly income)
4. Iceland (Vice Basket cost is 0.176% weekly income)
5. France (Vice Basket cost is 0.181% weekly income)
6. Norway (Vice Basket cost is 0.192% weekly income)
7. The Netherlands (Vice Basket cost is 0.209% weekly income)
8. Germany (Vice Basket cost is 0.211% weekly income)
9. Denmark (Vice Basket cost is 0.219% weekly income)
10. Belgium (Vice Basket cost is 0.222% weekly income)
11. Chile (Vice Basket cost is 0.224% weekly income)
12. Ireland (Vice Basket cost is 0.225% weekly income)
13. Austria (Vice Basket cost is 0.24% weekly income)
14. Uruguay (Vice Basket cost is 0.255% weekly income)
15. Panama (Vice Basket cost is 0.273% weekly income)
If this seems like an odd way to rank the cheapest countries to buy booze and drugs, well, what they’re doing is taking a total measure of a country’s vices instead of just looking at any one product individually. So, while booze at a bar in Iceland might be wildly expensive because it’s an island in the middle of nowhere, Iceland actually ranks #4 in the world on Bloomberg Global Vice Index because other vice items like drugs are cheaper.
These results are pretty interesting. Panama is ranked 15th even though drugs are incredibly cheap there. They have a ‘One Dollar’ saying in Panama City which basically means you can buy any drug (in small quantities) for a dollar. I’m sure that booze, alcohol, and drugs aren’t cheap in Luxembourg but everyone in that country is making $$$$$$$$ so the cost of those goods are just a small fraction of the weekly income.