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Govt, Industry Must do More About Alcohol in NZ

Government and Industry Must do More About Alcohol in NZ: Release of Medical College Alcohol Policy

WELLINGTON, Dec. 5 /MediaNet International-AsiaNet/ --

Further regulation for licensed venues, increased checks on alcohol advertising, standardised drink driving sentencing are just some of the recommendations in the new alcohol policy released tomorrow morning by The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

“Alcohol dependency is a chronic relapsing medical condition. It should be treated with the same regard as other chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Our policy recommends evidence-based actions that would have a positive affect on the drinking habits of New Zealand,” Dr Ian Scott said.

Drink driving still remains a significant problem in NZ. The RACP encourages the New Zealand government to develop a more consistent approach to drink driving sentencing in all jurisdictions. The policy also recommends increased referral to alcohol treatment and intervention programs for drink driving offenders as part of Court sentencing.

New Zealand has 15,000 liquor outlets- more than in the whole of Australia, so regulating liquor outlets and licensed venues is extremely important. The RACP urges all licensed venues to develop Responsible Service Policies to train staff to recognise and act when a patron is intoxicated and avoid irresponsible alcohol promotions. These are only effective in addition to the visible enforcement of liquor laws.

Liquor laws need to be properly enforced. Recent trends show the majority of breaches are recorded against minors and intoxicated patrons, but not licensees for serving them. Very few licensees are fined for breaching the law.

“In the current enforcement environment with low perceived risks and costs associated with breaching the law, it is no surprise that many licensed venues continue to flout the law,” Dr Murray Hunt said.

The RACP policy states alcohol advertising normalises risky or high risk drinking and believes further regulation on alcohol advertising is needed. Alcohol advertising is broader than promotion as it extends into areas such as point of sale, internet marketing and marketing at young peoples venues.

“There is minimal regulation of alcohol advertising and promotion and the bulk of advertising is aimed at young people. We recommend that the government begin frequently promoting the advertising complaints system so consumers know how to complain,” Dr Ross McCormick said.

The RACP also wants to increase the independence of the regulatory system by reviewing all advertisements prior to display or broadcast, rather than waiting for a consumer complaint.

Treatment for people who have developed a health problem related to alcohol should be as accessible and as of the same high quality as treatment for all other health conditions. The RACP proposes that current treatment services need to be vastly improved so they are widely available to all people experiencing alcohol related problems.

“Access to early intervention programs, adequate screening, withdrawal and management programs and appropriate referral are vital to treating people with alcohol related problems,” Dr Ross McCormick said.

The RACP also recommends increased promotion and marketing of alcohol treatment services like the promotion given to quit smoking services.

The RACP is responsible for training, educating and representing over 9,000 physicians in Australia and New Zealand. The RACP represents 25 medical sub-specialties including paediatrics, public health and occupational medicine. Physicians are often called medical specialists. They are doctors who have completed an extra eight years or more of training after their initial university medical training. Patients are generally referred to a physician by a general practitioner seeking expert medical advice.

ENDS

For a copy of the policy please visit the RACP Website on: http://www.racp.edu.au/hpu/policy/alcohol/index.htm

SOURCE: The Royal Australasian College of Physicians

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