Passing of the Alcohol Reform Bill
11th December 2012
Alcohol Healthwatch believes that for the many New Zealanders who have called for alcohol law reform, the passing of the Alcohol Reform Bill in Parliament today will be met with relief. Director Rebecca Williams says that the waiting is finally over, and we can get on with the effective implementation of the new legislation.
She says, “We’ve pretty much known what the outcome of these final stages of the Bill’s progression will be, and that moves to strengthen the legislation would be thwarted. A lot of people have already moved on and started to look at how the new rules can be maximised.”
Williams says the legislation is far from ideal and communities will have to work jolly hard if they are to harvest any safety gains from it. “It has been harrowing to watch the already weak Bill get even further whittled away after the public submission process was over. Alcohol and supermarket interests have certainly influenced the outcomes despite the strong public support for stronger measures.
“The Government has backed down on requiring supermarkets to keep alcohol in one non-prominent area of the store. Now up to 3 areas can be used. They’ve also backed down on plans to regulate the alcohol content of Ready to Drinks (RTDs) or to regulate where they can be sold, leaving this in the alcohol industry’s hands to self-regulate.”
The 12 month lag time before key elements of the new law, such as Local Alcohol Policies, can be implemented will cause further frustration for a lot of people.
Williams says that reducing the affordability and marketing of alcohol, effective policies that were rejected by the Government, remain on the policy agenda. “If this Government or the next thinks that the calls for more effective policies will quieten they are mistaken. These issues and others will remain in the spotlight both here and internationally as pressure mounts on Governments to address the growing burden of alcohol-related harm.