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Alcohol Excise Tax

Alcohol Excise Tax

The Government believes that the alcohol excise tax introduced in May has been effective in achieving its intended aim.

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said today that figures released by the Health Ministry and the Customs Service this week demonstrates that price was an effective tool in influencing purchasing decisions.

"Liquid litres of light spirits released for sale have dramatically declined since the tax was introduced," he said.

Mr O'Connor said the aim of the tax was to change young people's purchasing of higher alcohol drinks.

"The young people interviewed in a Christchurch Press article all said they would be able to buy less with the new excise increase. International evidence shows that pricing is an effective tool in influencing price sensitive drinkers and the most sensitive are young people.

"We have to stop the culture of binge drinking and these figures suggest that young people are buying less high alcohol drinks. It doesn't mean they won't stop drinking altogether."

Mr O'Connor said he agreed with Dr Scott Pearson of Christchurch Hospital that changing the drinking culture was a tough task, but he said there needed to be caution in using hospital admissions as an indicator of whether the tax was working. Mr O'Connor said the excise tax in itself was not the only measure in place to stop young people drinking to excess, rather it is part of broader government policies to minimise harm caused by alcohol in New Zealand society.

"In the same way that the Government has acted to get methamphetamine out of reach of our young people because of the harm it has caused, we have acted to get high alcohol/low price products out of the reach of young people because of the harm they cause."

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