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Addressing Drug And Alcohol Harm A Priority

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said today we must not allow drugs, legal or illegal, to deny us our opportunities and prosperity, now or in the future.

Newly compiled statistics providing a snapshot of drug use and abuse in New Zealand are being welcomed by those trying to address the harm caused by alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other drugs.

New Zealand Drug Statistics released today by Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia is compilation of data from a range of government and non-government sources.

"Drug and alcohol misuse is a major cause of premature death, preventable ill health and social harm. Too many New Zealanders, in particular our young people and other vulnerable groups suffer drug-related harm. This Government will continue to take action to address this situation, but this report provides a summary of what we're up against.

The report highlights the recent increase in drinking by young people. Approximately 25 percent of young people binge-drink on a typical drinking occasion.

"This is not news, we all have witnessed the harms associated with young people's drinking - on the streets and in hospitals all over New Zealand. What this report does is provide an evidence base on which to measure the impact of recent changes.

The report also illustrates the positive impact of the Government's comprehensive tobacco control programme on consumption and smoking rates.

"Our efforts to reduce smoking rates continue to have an impact. More and more New Zealanders are quitting by accessing Government subsidised treatment programmes.

"Despite these improvements, the rates of smoking by Mäori and uptake among young people are still too high. I will continue to take a particular interest in programmes for Maori and for young people to ensure what the Government is doing is working.

The report also summarises studies of people's beliefs about the health effects of second hand smoke, showing most people find it bothersome and there is widespread acceptance of the need for controls on smoking in public.

"I strongly believe that any public environment in which employees must work, must be smokefree.

"The use and abuse of other types of drugs in New Zealand and the harm they cause is of concern which this report has reinforced.

"We are committed to developing and providing more and better alcohol and drug treatment services. Not only do we want to reduce the toll drugs and alcohol take on the health of individuals, we are also aware of their costs for families and whanau, and other social costs", Tariana Turia said.

The report is the culmination of a two-year project led by the Ministry of Health which involved the Alcohol Advisory Council, Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit, Land Transport Safety Authority, Ministry of Justice, Police, Water Safety Council, and the Sports Drug Agency.


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