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Heaviest drinking quarter since new liquor laws implemented

Heaviest drinking quarter since new liquor laws came into effect

Alcohol Healthwatch media release, 26 February 2018

New figures show that more alcohol was available for consumption per person in the October-December quarter of 2017 than in any other quarter in the five years since the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into effect.

Annual per capita consumption has barely shifted since 2012 says Alcohol Healthwatch Executive Director Dr Nicki Jackson.

“We have witnessed more people drinking hazardously in all age groups from 35- to 74-years, whilst adolescents are making positive changes by reducing their drinking. More than a third of hazardous drinkers are aged 35-54-years. This is the generation that is driving our economy, raising our children, and running our country.

“Evidence strongly suggests that to reverse these drinking trends and set New Zealand on a path where our potential is not hindered by our alcohol use, we need to increase the price of alcohol.”

Dr Jackson said alcohol prices have simply not kept pace with inflation.

“The real price of wine is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1988. This is reflected in supermarket prices where bottles of wine can now be purchased for $5.99.”

February’s UMR polling data commissioned by Alcohol Healthwatch has shown strong public support for raising the price of alcohol. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of people polled supported increasing the price of alcohol to fund mental health and addiction services. Higher levels of support were found among NZ First voters (84 percent), 30-44-year-olds, people of Pacific ethnicity and those with lower incomes.

Dr Jackson believes the opportunity is ripe for leadership to create a healthier, fairer society.

“Raising the excise tax on alcohol is all about fairness; those who drink the most, pay the most. Around 20 percent of New Zealanders do not drink, yet they also pay the considerable cost of alcohol harm in our society.

“We hear urgent calls from our Emergency Department physicians for help with overflowing waiting rooms so by reducing New Zealander’s alcohol consumption we could greatly reduce the burden on our hospital staff.

“Benefits further extend to better mental health, safer roads and communities, and more productive workplaces and economy.”

ENDS

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