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Binge Drinking Encouraged by Mavericks

Press release 23 September, 2003

Binge Drinking Encouraged by Mavericks

Maverick alcohol suppliers are encouraging excessive drinking, argues the Distilled Spirits Association of New Zealand.

The Association, which represents this country's leading producers and marketers of high quality, premium spirits and liqueurs, concurs with the Alcohol Advisory Council's (ALAC) warning today following the recent deaths of two men in relation to binge drinking.

ALAC's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mike MacAvoy noted that the individuals appeared to have consumed bottles of so-called "lower strength" spirits, and believes people may be lulled into a false sense of security by the term "low strength".

A concern shared by Thomas Chin, Chief Executive of the Distilled Spirits Association.

"Consumers should be wary of products marketed as 'lite spirits', which are watered down general alcoholic concoctions."

"To use the term 'light' (or 'lite') in reference to these beverages is wrong and in breach of the food standards and liquor advertising code."

The Food Standards Code requires genuine spirits to contain a minimum of 37% alcohol by volume (abv). The liquor advertising code, which came into force at the beginning of September, defines "light (or lite) alcohol" as meaning liquor containing a maximum of 2.5% abv.

"Clearly, so-called 'lite' spirits containing 13.9%abv and 23%abv are deliberately ambiguous and misleading and as a result, consumers' lives are in jeopardy," says Thomas Chin.

The Association urges the Government to fix the excise tax anomalies to prevent some suppliers from deliberately appealing to vulnerable and underage drinkers with cheap and bulk volume beverages.

The Association says it's essential for New Zealanders to understand what they're consuming. For example, many people are not aware that a typical serving of spirits as a nip of scotch, or a measure of bourbon with cola has the same amount of alcohol, and therefore the same effects, as a glass of lager or wine.

"Of course the golden rule, whatever alcohol beverage you're drinking, is always moderation."

ENDS

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