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Health Coalition Aotearoa Supports DHB Heads - Alcohol Policy Has Failed

The DHBs who constitute the front line for much of the harm from alcohol have publicly called for the government to urgently review the "failed" Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

It is the first time the chairs and chief executives of all 20 District Health Boards have released a joint position statement and called for a law change.

A DHB statement, released on September 27, said the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 "has failed in its object to minimise alcohol-related harm".

Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) supports this call and asks the Minister of Justice Kris Faafoi to work alongside Minister of Health Andrew Little to produce a law that reduces the damage from alcohol and the inequitable burden of harm suffered by Māori.

Northland DHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said new legislation needs to:

- Give effect to Te Tiriti O Waitangi and reduce inequities of alcohol-related harm

- Remove easy access to alcohol and

- Reduce the visibility of alcohol advertising and sponsorship

"Marked reductions in alcohol harm are possible with legislative change and political leadership," HCA Alcohol Expert Panelist Professor Jennie Connor said.

"A combination of policies is needed that reduces the accessibility and affordability of alcohol, curtails alcohol marketing and promotion to the level allowed for tobacco, and strengthens drink-driving countermeasures."

"However, for changes to be effective, it is vital the voices of those most harmed by the lack of healthy alcohol policy are sought, listened to, and involved in decision-making. First and foremost are Māori communities.

"If Local Alcohol Policies are to be retained the appeal process needs to go, but LAPs could be replaced with stronger national boundaries around availability."

Health Coalition Aotearoa believes that the failure of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 was inevitable when evidence-based recommendations for improving health and wellbeing were rejected in favour of protecting commercial interests.

"In the upcoming review, those who profit from sales will need to be excluded from policy development due to their inevitable conflict of interest. The focus on health and wellbeing needs to be protected".

As Northland DHB Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain put it,

"When the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was designed, we couldn’t imagine a world where you could have bottles of cheap wine delivered to your door by someone on a scooter - who doesn’t have to abide by a Host Responsibility Policy or even consistently check ID."

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