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Public Health Action on Alcohol – the 5+ Solution

Alcohol Action NZ is pleased to advise of a pivotal conference being held on Wednesday 18th August at the Wharewaka Function Centre, Wellington, featuring four outstanding keynote speakers: Professor Jennie Connor, Rāwiri Ratū, Sir Graham Lowe and Nicky Hager.

The theme of the conference, Public health action on alcohol – the 5+ Solution, comes at a time when there is a change occurring in New Zealand. The public are better understanding the importance of taking a population-based approach to dealing with major health problems, in this instance New Zealand’s damaging drinking culture.

New Zealanders have a right to be protected from the considerable harm alcohol causes. The government’s upcoming health reforms featuring a Public Health Agency, a national public health service, and a Māori Health Authority reflect the shift that is taking place to ensure better response to threats to public health.

Professor Connor comments: “Successive governments have failed us by taking an unprincipled and ad hoc approach to alcohol policy for more than 30 years. They have put commercial and political interests ahead of the rights and wellbeing of New Zealanders, despite high levels of public support for change”.

“Health, equity and economic gains will follow from adoption of proven strategies to reduce alcohol consumption and harm, as have been recommended by several major reviews and government enquiries in New Zealand, and the World Health Organisation”.

The 5+ Solution was formulated by Alcohol Action NZ in 2009, based on the best public health science available. The solution requires government action: Dismantle marketing, Increase the price, Reduce accessibility, Raise the purchase age, Strengthen drinking driving countermeasures, PLUS Increase treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers.

Professor Connor further comments, “Reform of our alcohol legislation must give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and be protected from the influence of those who profit from alcohol.”

Rāwiri Ratū, Executive Chairman of Kookiri ki Tāmakimakaurau Trust, is pursuing alcohol law reform to “reduce the harmful effects of alcohol on Māori because Māori lives matter”. He will provide an update on his Treaty claim and other initiatives.

Sir Graham Lowe, who chaired the Ministerial Forum on Alcohol Advertising and Sponsorship in 2014, will update on the recommendations made at the time, particularly in relation to the banning of all alcohol sponsorship of sport.

Finally, Nicky Hager will address the conference on the nature of democratic change and the forces that obstruct it. He comments: “Unless public health people are aware of the forces opposing them, good harm-reduction policies will keep not being implemented.”

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