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'Go Low' to reduce alcohol-related harm


20 December 2016


Getting more Kiwis to drink low-alcohol beer is a win-win for drinkers and health and enforcement agencies, says a new alcohol action group.

Headed by former Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson, the Go Low Action Group is made up of national hospitality and business organisations to promote the health and social benefits of low-alcohol beer (less than 3% alcohol-by-volume).

“The lower drink-drive limit probably best reflects the shift in public attitudes toward alcohol,” says Mr Robertson.

“There are real and perceived issues around the impact of alcohol in our communities, and it’s our job to help find workable ways of reducing alcohol-related harm.”

Encouraging consumption of low-alcohol beer could go a long way toward mitigating the health and social costs of alcohol.

“Moderation, responsibility and sociability is what it’s all about, and low-alcohol beer allows for all three. Take concerns about drink-driving. While it’s advisable that people don’t consume any alcohol and then drive, the fact is that low-alcohol beer offers a safer option for people who are driving and who do want to enjoy a drink.

“It also offers the potential of taking pressure off police and hospital staff, for example, who often have to deal with the end-result of alcohol-related harm.”

Mr Robertson says that while low-alcohol beer has jumped from 1% of all beer consumed in New Zealand to 5% in just three years, we are still a long way behind Australia, where overall consumption is more than 20%.

“There’s a range of reasons behind this and we’ll be exploring the issues and solutions with key decision-makers to see if we can get more Kiwis to Go Low. That includes working with government to develop policies that make the production, sale and consumption of low-alcohol beer more attractive.

“If we can encourage moderation through the consumption of low-alcohol beer then it’s a win-win for everyone, from drinkers and pubs to police and health agencies. Ultimately, that’s good for our communities.”

The Go Low Action Group wants hosts to provide low-alcohol beer options at events and gatherings during the festive season and throughout summer.

“Host responsibility is really important,” says Mr Robertson. “That includes anyone putting on Christmas and New Year events. For businesses having staff parties, for example, we’d urge them to make sure they’re providing low-alcohol, as well as no-alcohol, options.”

The Go Low Action Group is supported by the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, Clubs New Zealand, Federated Farmers New Zealand, Hospitality New Zealand and the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.

“It’s great to have these organisations involved straight off the bat and we’ll be bringing in other community, health and business groups soon,” says Mr Robertson. “Only by working with a wide range of interested and affected groups will we get actual, workable solutions to the issues.”

About Go Low

The Go Low Action Group is a pan-industry group supported by national hospitality and business organisations to promote the health and social benefits of the consumption of low-alcohol beer (less than 3% alcohol-by-volume) through moderation, responsibility and sociability.

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