Meaningful Alcohol Law Reform Urgently Required In NZ
Meaningful Alcohol Law Reform Urgently Required In New Zealand
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Nov. 30/Medianet International-AsiaNet/ --
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is calling on the New Zealand Government to act urgently and decisively on alcohol law reform to ensure that the New Zealand community is free of wide-spread alcohol abuse and its related harms.
"There is nothing in recent Government proposals which will make any substantial difference to the amount of heavy drinking in New Zealand," said Dr Lyndy Matthews, Chair of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' New Zealand National Committee.
"The current alcohol laws are exacerbating New Zealand's drinking problems. At least 25% of New Zealanders who drink are heavy drinkers, half of serious violent crimes are related to alcohol, and alcohol use can seriously impact on mental health," said Dr Lyndy Matthews.
"Excessive drinking affects brain function and can both induce and exacerbate mental health problems. There is clear evidence of long term harms associated with regular heavy alcohol use, with high rates of chronic illness associated with binge drinking in adolescence and young adulthood," said Dr Matthews.
"Binge drinking particularly affects the developing brain of a child or adolescent. Attention must be paid to the coexistence of alcohol abuse, physical and mental health issues in youth where the majority of substance abuse disorders develop. Furthermore alcohol use during pregnancy has a significant impact on the developing foetus," said Dr Maria Tomasic President of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.
The following recommended law changes would reduce New Zealanders' harmful drinking:
* Make a commitment to significantly raising alcohol prices, through initially introducing a minimum price per standard unit of alcohol, followed by strategic increases in excise tax over time to fund improved treatment services
* Take a national lead in reducing the very high access to alcohol that currently exists, including changing supermarkets back to being alcohol free
* Adopt the Law Commission's recommendations about dismantling broadcast advertising and sponsorship of sport and cultural events over the next five years
* Reduce the blood alcohol level permissible for adults to drive from 0.08 to 0.05, if not lower
"The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists urges the Government to act now to have a meaningful impact on reducing the levels of heavy drinking amongst everyday New Zealanders," said Dr Matthews.
A letter has been sent to the New Zealand Prime Minister from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' President and the Chair of the New Zealand National Committee asking the Government to act on this issue.