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ALAC Welcomes Government’ Move to Reduce Harm

ALAC Welcomes Government’ Move to Reduce Harm

Price policy is proven internationally to be the most effective tool in reducing alcohol-related harm according to the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand.

ALAC is welcoming the passing of the Customs and Excise (Alcoholic Beverages) Amendment Bill passed by parliament early this morning.

“This is excellent news and we commend the Government on this move,” said Dr Mike MacAvoy, Chief Executive. “We’ve done a great deal of work in this area, including commissioning a report by economist Brian Easton last year, and evidence shows unequivocally that the approach works.

Increasing tax on alcohol that has higher alcohol content helps steer people away from the high-alcohol cheap drinks towards lower strength products he said.

“We do want to see people drinking lower strength alcohol products. If young people are drinking lower strength drinks, the risk is reduced and that’s what this is about – reducing harm,” he said.

ALAC says the issue is being muddied with concern that “alco-pop” drinks aren’t included in this legislation.

“Alco-pops are lower strength, mainly around 5 percent,” he said. “But people are missing the point when they argue that they are the main problem. At the moment you can buy one bottle of the “light spirits” for just $10 that contains 23 standard drinks – or the recommended maximum intake for a male over the course of a whole week.

“One alco-pop drink at 5 percent alcohol is about 1.5 standard drinks. You’d have to spend around $25.00 on them to get the same quantity of alcohol that light spirits gets you for just $10.00 currently. If your goal is intoxication, which it is for a lot of young people, which would you choose?”

ALAC also emphasizes how important it is that a raft of strategies is used to combat harm and says that the call for more education is not the panacea to harm reduction, nor would simply raising the legal purchase age for alcohol.

“Education is unlikely to be effective without supporting strategies such as community action, addressing the culture of intoxication, policies around supply and enforcement and other interventions. Throwing dollars at education alone is not the answer. We need more resources for all these other strategies.

“Often the least likeable strategies are the most effective and it’s easy for adults to suggest education as a solution because it doesn’t effect them. In fact, adults need to address their own drinking too,” Dr MacAvoy said. “And really, the impact of this tax change on most adults who drink in a sensible way is quite minimal, but the gain for families and young people is immense.”

ALAC says it is focusing its work over the next five years on complementary strategies that include community action, enforcement, policy, education, advertising, and promotion.


ENDS

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