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Sale of alcohol to under 18s re-emphasised - Goff

Justice Minister Phil Goff said today’s meeting with liquor industry heads re-emphasised Government and public concern over the sale of alcohol to under-18-year-olds.

Mr Goff, along with Police Minister George Hawkins and associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor met with representatives of major supermarkets, grocery stores, liquor outlets and other industry heads.

“The purpose of the meeting was to draw the industry’s attention to the high level of non-compliance by their members with sale of liquor laws.

“The ‘pseudo patron’ exercise conducted by the Alcohol and Public Health Unit earlier this year showed 18-year-olds were able to purchase alcohol from 80 percent of grocery outlets, 59 percent of bottle shops and 53 percent of supermarkets without being asked for proof of age.

“In police sting operations carried out over the year to September, 42 percent of underage volunteers were successful purchasing alcohol.

“The Government said that the clear message from those statistics was that the retail industry must do more to ensure their members comply with the law.

“For those who fail to do so, responsibility lies with the police and courts to ensure the law is upheld.

“Enforcement proceedings lodged by Police and District Licensing Agency Inspectors more than doubled in the year to 30 June 2002. The Police have also reported to me that a new series of sting operations are being planned to address sale of alcohol to minors. The Courts have the power to impose deterrent penalties, including the suspension and cancellation of liquor licences.

“Sale to underage purchasers is only part of the problem. Youth drinking attitudes and supply of alcohol to underage youths by parents and friends are also major factors. However, the industry must get its act together to stop retailers breaching minimum age restrictions relating to the sale of liquor. I welcome the undertaking from the industry that it will cooperate to achieve that,” Mr Goff said.

Appendix to Liquor Industy meeting media statement

Pseudo patron study (June 2002, West Auckland) (Young looking 18 year old purchasers) Conducted by Alcohol and Public Health Research (now Social and Health outcomes Research and Evaluation)

200 visits – 121 successful purchases (61%)

Breakdown by off-licence type: Grocery stores – 80% successful purchase Bottle shops - 59% Supermarkets - 53%

Breakdown by suburb: Papakura – 91% successful purchase Manukau – 77% Rodney – 67% Franklin – 65% Auckland – 57% Waitakere – 40% North Shore – 39%

Controlled purchase operation conducted by Police (October 2001 – September 2002) (Underage volunteers who attempt to purchase alcohol using an EFTPOS account devoid of funds, under the supervision of a plain clothed police officer.)

109 visits – 46 successful purchases (42%)

Breakdown (by area): Christchurch: 64 visits – 20 successful purchases(31%) Auckland: 25 visits – 14 (56%) Rotorua: 11 visits – 9l (82%) Wanganui: 9 visits – 5 (56%)

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