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Keeping it 18 allows real problems to be addressed

9 November 2006

Keeping it 18 allows the real problems to be addressed

Now that the red herring of the purchasing age is out of the way we can focus on real solutions to reduce alcohol related harm, Green Party Alcohol and Drugs Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

Last night Parliament voted to keep the legal purchasing age for alcohol at 18. The Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction: Purchase Age) Amendment bill, promoted first by Matt Robson and then by Martin Gallagher, was defeated at its second reading by 72 votes to 49 in a conscience vote.

"The Keep It 18 campaign was a great initiative from young New Zealanders and helped to convince MPs that young people are not responsible for all the drinking problems faced by the community," Mrs Turei says.

"There are many thousands of responsible young adult drinkers who should not have their rights stripped away simply to ease public pressure to do something about problem drinking.

"The legal purchasing age has never been the real issue. It is unrestricted advertising, wide access to alcohol, unrestricted supply of alcohol to very young people, and the widely accepted culture of binge drinking that need to be addressed.

"I hope that MPs concerned about alcohol-related harms will support my Liquor Advertising (Television and Radio) Bill, which, unlike the bid to change the purchase age, seeks to change our widespread binge-drinking culture with a general measure, not one targeted at a specific group," Mrs Turei says.

The Green private member's bill, which was recently pulled from the ballot, would ban all alcohol advertising on television and radio. It goes further than Martin Gallagher's other bill, which seeks only to restrict alcohol advertising on television after 10pm.

"Ending broadcast advertising is a crucial first-step towards getting rid of alcohol advertising altogether. We have seen how effective this has been at reducing the social acceptability of cigarette smoking, which, like binge drinking is now, was once widely considered normal and appropriate," Mrs Turei says.

"I am pleased that the Government has announced an inquiry into the problem of underage drinking, and am keep to work with them on this inquiry. The supply of alcohol to underage children, and better means to reduce that supply, need particular attention. It is currently legal for an adult to supply alcohol to a child at a private social gathering. We must find a way to deal with this, as over 50 percent of alcohol provided to minors is provided by parents at home," Mrs Turei says.


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