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Tougher Penalties And Support Programmes Are Crucial To Reduce Harmful Drinking - Survey

Kiwis overwhelmingly support cars being confiscated from repeat drink drivers, the use of targeted support and alcohol education programmes to reduce harmful drinking, a survey shows.

The annual NZ Alcohol Beverages Council survey of 1000 people clearly shows that New Zealanders rank six key interventions when it comes to reducing poor drinking choices.

The top six reduction measures (net support compared to 2019):

  • Targeted support programmes for harmful drinkers +83% (+5%)
  • Confiscating cars from repeat drink drivers +78% (-2%)
  • Alcohol education in schools programmes +78% (+6%)
  • Heavier fines for drunk and disorderly behaviour +57% (+1%)
  • Alcohol education programmes in workplaces +54% (no previous data)
  • Use alcohol interlocks in cars to reduce drink driving +47% (2021: -7%)

One question asked what respondents thought of alcohol education programmes in schools and 78% agreed that this will reduce alcohol-related harm.

“Education in schools is helping to provide young people with practical information including how to say no to alcohol and that its okay not to drink”, says NZABC executive director Virginia Nicholls.

Since 2019 the Tomorrow Project - a social change charity governed by Spirits NZ, NZ Winegrowers and the Brewers Association – has funded the Life Education Trust to deliver ‘Smashed’, a theatre-in-education programme for 12- and 13-year-olds that provides practical information and advice to support better decision making.

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Independent research showed the programme was supporting positive changes to youth drinking culture.

Another question said that 54% of respondents support alcohol education programmes in workplaces. Recent workplace research shows that alcohol prevention programmes are effective for moderating consumption. Although the overall mean effect is considered to be small, it underlines the effectiveness of workplace interventions targeting a reduction in alcohol use.

“And although it is clear that Kiwis take a dim view of repeat drink drivers, drink driving offences are on the decline”, says Virginia.

“Although there is still work to be done here – and no one should ever drink and drive, over the past ten years convictions for drink driving offences have declined by 26%. This is a reduction of 5,465 people from 20,972 in 2014 to 15,507 in 2023. Men (78%) are more likely than women (22%) to drink and drive,” says Virginia.

The NZ Health survey says that 84% of NZ adults (more than four out of five of us) are drinking beer, wine and spirits responsibly. This is an increase of 3% from last year (81% 2022).

The survey shows the lowest rate of hazardous drinking since the survey began – sitting at 16% of the adult population (18.7% 2022). This is 4.8 percentage points fewer hazardous drinkers in the past 6 years. This reduction is significant and shows the change in the way that we are drinking.”

Over the past year this equates to 110,000 fewer kiwis drinking in a harmful way.

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