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Historic Position Statement From DHBs On Alcohol

In response to the chronic lack of policy response to harm from alcohol in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the Chairs and Chief Executives of the country’s 20 District Health Boards have issued a detailed collective position statement today. Despite a number of substantial government reviews and reports recommending action over the last decade, little action of any consequence has yet been taken. Those trying to deal with the health harm that results from alcohol use are saying we need to act now with a major review of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

That the DHBs could come to agreement on their position is a sign of a collective understanding of two basic issues: that we need to follow the research evidence to choose policies that will be effective in reducing harm from alcohol, and the importance of giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi for reducing overall harm and the disproportionate harm currently affecting Māori.

The DHBs support reducing the accessibility of alcohol and affordability of alcohol to reduce consumption. Importantly, they also support curtailing the opportunity for the alcohol industry to increase consumption, by reducing advertising and promotion to the same as currently allowed for tobacco.

Dr Tony Farrell, Chair of Alcohol Action NZ, was impressed with the content of DHBs document and completely supports the need to move forward with the review of the Act.

“Less cheap alcohol and a reduction in places and times alcohol is sold will lower levels of disorder and assault, and consuming less also reduces chronic diseases such as liver disease and cancer” he said. “Having fewer heavy drinkers will reduce self-harm and suicide, and the number of children harmed by prenatal exposure to alcohol. It will relieve burdens on families and improve mental health”

“The alcohol industries have been allowed too much freedom to profit from alcohol and not pay for the damage they cause” said Professor Jennie Connor, a medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ. “Putting safer boundaries around industry activities and regulating promotion will improve health and well-being and will free up capacity in our health system to attend to other needs” she added.

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