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Ready To Drinks (RTDs) No Cause for Concern

Media release 17 April, 2004

RTDs No Cause for Concern

Spirits Industry Rejects Call for Tax Hikes to Curb Irresponsible Drinking Behaviour

Chief Executive of the Distilled Spirits Association*, Thomas Chin, refutes suggestions from Alcohol Healthwatch today that tax increases on alcoholic drinks will curb irresponsible drinking behaviour.

The Health Ministry-funded lobby group, Alcohol Healthwatch is calling for an across-the-board increase in tax on alcohol beverages and a standard minimum price to be set on Ready-To-Drink beverages (RTDs), claiming that the higher prices will curb their popularity with youths.

Thomas Chin comments: “Taxing certain types of alcohol beverages to death won’t fix the problem. Let’s not make RTDs and other alcohol beverages the scapegoat. The reality is that RTDs only make up a tiny portion of the country’s per capita alcohol consumption.”

If there’s a societal issue around inappropriate access and irresponsible drinking behaviour, then let’s address it, but penalising adults by making particular drinks excessively expensive is not the solution.”

Thomas Chin believes RTDs often take the rap by misinformed commentators that believe the alcohol content of RTDs to be higher than that of other alcoholic beverages. In fact, most RTDs are of an equivalent strength to packaged beer, containing 5 percent alcohol, or 1.5 standard drinks per unit, which is directly comparable with the alcohol content of beer.

RTDs also have the benefit of portion control where each serve is pre-measured and therefore have a consistent alcohol content – which is responsible consumption.

Thomas Chin also suggests there is no one drink type that is good or bad but rather the attention should be on an individual’s behaviour.

“The empirical evidence from the Alcohol Advisory Council shows young people starting to drink favour other alcohol beverages over pre-mixed drinks,” says Thomas Chin.

This is reinforced in Government papers released to the Association under the Official Information Act, which notes "Researchers point out that RTDs are "not" the best drink to get drunk on, because of their relatively low alcohol content (the same as beer), small volume and high price, compared to other products - such as cider and fortified fruit wine - which are preferred for binge drinking".


* The Distilled Spirits Association of New Zealand, represents this country’s leading producers and marketers of premium spirits and liqueurs.

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