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Survey shows drinking situation worsens

Dr John Adams, NZMA Chairman
Tuesday, 20 November 2001

Survey shows drinking situation worsens

The drinking age must be policed more rigorously, for the health and safety of young people, says the New Zealand Medical Association.

A survey about drinking, carried out by the Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit, shows that young people are drinking more and many do not get asked for ID when purchasing alcohol. Those aged 14-17 recorded big increases in their drinking - both in volume and frequency. Those aged 18 and 19 consumed the largest typical amounts (equivalent to eight and half cans of beer per session). In July the NZMA's call for the drinking age to be raised to 20 sparked widespread publicity and debate, and led to Cabinet agreeing that a review of the liquor laws be carried out.

"The survey shows a disturbing trend towards young people drinking more heavily. It also shows that they do not have many problems getting access to alcohol," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams.

"The NZMA supports raising the drinking age to 20. In the meantime, however, it is vital that the law as it now stands is rigorously enforced.

"Bar owners and staff must take more responsibility for checking the ID of young people, and police must take a zero tolerance line on bars and venues which are lax in enforcing the drinking age."

Dr Adams said more education programmes about the effects of alcohol were needed, particularly aimed at young people, and to counter advertising which shows alcohol in a totally positive light.

"Excessive drinking and binge drinking are serious problems, which can lead to heavy drinking later in life and health problems. Intoxication can put safety at risk, such as by making people more vulnerable to sexual and physical assault. Drink driving remains a problem," Dr Adams said.

"With the holiday season close by, it's important that people enjoy themselves by using alcohol in moderation."

ENDS

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