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Govt. announces biggest capitulation on alcohol to date

MEDIA RELEASE – 25/4/14

Government announces biggest capitulation on alcohol to date

Judith Collins, Minister of Justice, has deeply let down the public by refusing to act on a major alcohol policy review. The National-led Government had promised to study using minimum alcohol pricing to reduce heavy drinking in New Zealand. The study has arrived, documenting the benefits of minimum pricing, but Ms Collins has simply ignored it.

“We note that she released the news at 5.19pm on the Thursday afternoon before ANZAC day (see ref*), a traditional time for the government to bury unpopular actions”, medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ, Professor Doug Sellman, said. They do not want attention drawn to the fact they have ignored the evidence and capitulated to the alcohol industry."

The review indicates the benefit of eliminating ultra-cheap alcohol and loss leading by supermarkets. It also points out that increasing the excise tax on alcohol would have a general benefit on reducing alcohol-related harm. But Judith Collins is refusing to act on either.

“Raising the price of alcohol is the easiest and most cost-effective measure any government can enact in order to reduce the harm from alcohol overconsumption” said Professor Doug Sellman.

“However this government has studiously ignored every substantial recommendation of the Law Commission’s 2010 review on how to reduce the heavy drinking culture in New Zealand, including raising the price of alcohol”.

“Ms Collins justifies her inaction by saying that raising the price of alcohol will impact negatively on low-moderate drinkers. Putting to one side her unexplained definition of “moderate drinker”, raising the price of alcohol will have minimal impact on low-risk drinkers, as defined by the HPA – loose change in the pocket type increases.”

“This is why raising the price of alcohol is fair” added Dr Geoff Robinson, another medical spokesperson for AANZ. It impacts differentially on the harmful drinkers, which is exactly what the majority of New Zealand want to see happen”.

“However, it is these heavy drinking citizens who are contributing so much to alcohol industry profits. Over half of the enormous profits from alcohol results from heavy drinking”.

“This announcement by Ms Collins represents the biggest capitulation by her government to the alcohol industry to date”.

* Government not introducing minimum pricing on alcohol

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