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Drinkers have taste for open all hours policy

Drinkers have taste for open all hours policy

Liquor outlets’ long trading hours have been identified in a research survey as linked to the heavy drinking of people with quick available access to alcohol.

The New Zealand survey is part of an international collaborative research study led by Professor Sally Casswell from Massey’s SHORE (Social and Health Outcomes and Research Evaluation) and Whariki Research Centre, which examines the alcohol buying behaviour of respondents from multiple countries. It was funded by the Health Promotion Agency and Health Research Council of NZ.

It is published this week online at Early View and in May 2014 in an online only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Initial members of the International Alcohol Control study , including New Zealand, Thailand, Scotland and England, have been joined by countries including Australia, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam, for the study aimed at testing the effects of various alcohol policies on liquor consumption and problems in low and middle-income countries.

Professor Casswell and her colleagues carried out the survey, prior to changes in New Zealand’s liquor legislation, with data collection including information on respondents’ time of purchase, amounts bought, price paid, varieties of liquor and the location of the purchase. The researchers hope to follow up the 1900 respondents interviewed to assess any impact on the new legislation and they will also be monitoring price changes.

“Our analysis of the relationship between the prices people told us they paid and how much they drank found that people drinking large quantities pay less for their drinks,” Professor Casswell says.

“Those paying lower prices from off-license premises – where most alcohol is sold in New Zealand – were most likely to be to daily drinkers; whereas prices paid on on-premise drinking lcoations, like bars and restaurants, were not linked to frequency of drinking, but were to how much is consumed in a drinking occasion.”

The survey also showed the heavier drinkers in the survey – both in terms of the quantities consumed and the frequency of drinking – were most likely to have bought alcohol in later hours.

Professor Casswell says while the New Zealand conclusions that the more available alcohol is , the more likely people will drink heavily, were not startling, - the implications of the research findings for local governments and communities were important and timely.

“It is the communities that have to deal with alcohol-related disorders and violence, which are linked to heavier drinking which is, in turn, linked to longer hours spent drinking in bars and pubs. Sales ffrom off-licence premises of takeaway alcohol have also been linked with family violence and child maltreatment. Our findings support the importance of trading hours, and this is one policy which may be changed quickly given the opportunity in New Zealand for councils to set trading hours – unlike reducing density, for example, which may take longer to achieve,” she says.

‘With this research we are seeking to better inform community policy in the countries taking part [in the study] about what is happening on the ground – what drinkers are buying, or obtaining via social supply, how much they are paying, where and when they buy and their exposure to alcohol marketing.”

‘An ability to measure response to any policy changes which occur, and make comparisons with countries where no policy change has occurred, will add to the
international community’s knowledge of what makes effective alchol policy, articularly in emerging alcohol markets where less information is available.”

Ends

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