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Alcohol industry needs to get with the programme

Alcohol industry needs to get with the culture change programme

Alcohol Healthwatch media release, 5 March 2014

Alcohol Healthwatch says local councils have been developing their Local Alcohol Policies (LAPs) under extreme pressure from groups with a vested interest in promoting alcohol who are now making good on their threats of legal action. Director Rebecca Williams says this is unreasonable and undermines the intent of new alcohol laws.

Ms Williams says one example is Progressive Enterprises aggressively pressuring smaller districts like Hauraki to allow their stores to sell alcohol from 7am-11pm when the local council had proposed 9am-9pm trading hours based on community consultation,[1] but this isn't the only one.

“The Government made it clear that the intent of the new alcohol legislation, which contains the LAPs, was to reduce availability of alcohol and improve community input into local decision making on alcohol,” Ms Williams says.

”While they have a right to appeal, these vested interests have only one ground on which to do so, and that is whether the measures imposed by an LAP are unreasonable in light of the Act’s intent.

“We've seen nothing in any LAP developed so far that could be considered unreasonable. In fact most need to go further if they are to be effective at reducing alcohol-related harm.

”Evidence links harm to both on- and off-licence premises, and shows that restricting opening hours and reducing the number/density of premises effectively reduces those harms.”

In 2008 a Countdown supermarket in Papakura voluntarily reduced its trading hours and Ms Williams says the number of alcohol-related incidents within a 500m radius of the store requiring police attendance was less than half that of the previous year.

“This local example echoes findings from robust surveys, both here and abroad, that demonstrate the effectiveness of restricting access to alcohol.

“Communities have fought long and hard for the basic right to control what goes on in their neighbourhoods. Whether supermarkets and other industry groups like it or not the new alcohol laws are here and the playing field has changed. They need to back off and get with the programme towards a culture change.”

Ends.

[1] See Countdown heavies small towns, Dominion Post, 1 March 2014, available at http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/9779615/Countdown-heavies-small-towns

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