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Kiwis’ (mis)perceptions Of Alcohol Attitudes And Behaviours

Graph 1. Recorded alcohol consumption among adults, 2007 and 2017 (or nearest year).

New research by the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) shows perception is not reality when it comes to what Kiwis think about the way we drink.

“Although 58% (up 19% from last year) of those surveyed agreed the majority of New Zealanders drink moderately and responsibly, close to a third (29%) still think we don’t – even though official statistics clearly show the vast majority (80%) of Kiwis drink in a moderate way,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.[i][ii]

“Nearly half (47%, down 15% from 2019) were incorrect in thinking there were more 15 to 17-year-olds drinking than over a decade ago. Yet, government research shows 22.8% fewer younger people had alcohol in the past year compared with 2006/7 when measurement began,” says Bridget.[iii]

Also, nearly half (48%) incorrectly thought that there were more drink-driving convictions than a decade ago. Drink-driving is decreasing and has been for some years. [iv]

“Over half (53%, up 2% from 2019) wrongly think New Zealanders drink more alcohol than most other developed countries, with only 36% thinking we drink less. New Zealanders actually consume less alcohol than the OECD average, and less than countries like Australia, UK, US, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and France,” she says.[v]

Almost a quarter (24%) thought there was no tax on alcohol except for GST. However, 59% were aware of the excise tax on alcohol.

“Kiwis are making positive changes in their attitudes and behaviours toward alcohol. They are making better decisions around alcohol based on their personal circumstances, situation and their lifestyle, and as result, we see a decline in hazardous drinking, fewer younger people are drinking and decreases in total consumption,” Bridget says.

“While we are seeing some positive changes to our drinking culture, there is still work to be done to increase momentum and accelerate these changes. We know from other research that one in five drink in a way that is hazardous to themselves or others – and that is not okay. An all-of-society approach, targeted education and support programmes are critical to changing attitudes and behaviours and helping people make better decisions around alcohol,” says Bridget.

Need more information?

  1. Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week.
  2. Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week.
  3. AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

______

[i] NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, New Zealander’s attitudes to alcohol research, December 2020, poll of 1000 New Zealanders undertaken by Curia Market Research - Preliminary findings:

  • 58% (+19% from 2019) agree the majority of New Zealanders drink moderately and responsibly, and 29% disagree.
  • 53% (+2% from 2019) respondents incorrectly think New Zealanders drink more alcohol than most other developed countries. Only 36% correctly thought New Zealanders drink less alcohol than most other developed countries.
  • 47% (-15% from 2019) of respondents incorrectly thought there were more 15 to 17-year-olds drinking than over a decade ago. Only 37% correctly knew the proportion of 15 to 17-year-olds drinking in New Zealand has decreased.
  • 24% (-2% from 2019) of respondents incorrectly thought there was no tax on alcohol except GST. 59% knew there were other taxes (e.g. excise tax) on alcohol.
  • Only 30% (+7% from 2019) correctly knew there were around 50% fewer drink driving convictions than a decade ago. 48% of respondents incorrectly thought that there were more drink driving convictions than a decade ago.

[ii] New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20, November 2020, https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/annual-update-key-results-2019-20-new-zealand-health-survey Four in five adults (81.5%) drank alcohol in the past year and are moderate drinkers. One in five drank (20.9%) in a hazardous way. https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2019-20-annual-data-explorer/_w_e434a146/#!/explore-indicators (Note: the results of the survey does not include information about people’s health during the lockdown in New Zealand)

[iii] New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20, November 2020, https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/annual-update-key-results-2019-20-new-zealand-health-survey The survey shows 57.5% of 15 to 17-year-olds have has alcohol in the past year, this is 22.8% less than in 2006/7 when 74.5% of 15 to 17-year-olds said they had alcohol in the past year.

[iv] Ministry of Justice, https://www.justice.govt.nz/assets/Documents/Publications/Justice-Statistics-data-tables-notes-and-trends-jun20-20200928.pdf In 2019/2020, 15,265 people were charged with driving under the influence offences. Of these, 95% (14,523 people) were convicted. The number of people convicted of driving under the influence offences has nearly halved over the last 10 years (from 27,528 people in 2010/2011 to 14,523 in 2019/2020).

[v] OECD Alcohol Consumption, https://data.oecd.org/healthrisk/alcohol-consumption.htm. Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older. The OECD average consumption is 8.9 litres/capita (aged 15 and over). New Zealand is at 8.8 litres/capita. See graph 1 below. Source: OECD Health Statistics, 2019. New Zealand figures as at 2018.

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