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NZCPHM Welcomes Police Commissioner’s Calls For Improved Policies To Reduce Harms From Alcohol & Highlights Cancer Link

The New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine (NZCPHM) strongly supports Police Commissioner Andrew Coster's calls for improved policies to reduce the harms from alcohol in Aotearoa New Zealand. Police estimate the harm from alcohol to be about $7.8 billion a year.

In addition to a being key contributing factor in crimes of violence, homicide and family abuse, alcohol also causes a range of harms to health. Alcohol harm in Aotearoa New Zealand is highly inequitable, with worse outcomes for Māori, children, young adults and men.

“Commissioner Coster is spot on to point to reducing the availability of alcohol and increasing its price as key measures to reduce harms” says College President Sir Collin Tukuitonga. “The evidence clearly shows these are highly effective measures at reducing the damage that alcohol is causing”.

Alcohol is an important and modifiable cause of cancer and other health conditions. In Aotearoa New Zealand, between 800 and 1,000 people die prematurely every year from alcohol-related causes and approximately 940 cancers diagnosed each year are attributable to alcohol. Consuming just one drink of alcohol a day is associated with an increased risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, liver and female breast.

“We know there is a clear link between alcohol and cancer. Smarter alcohol policies are an investment in the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders that could substantially reduce costs to our health system” says Sir Collin Tukuitonga.

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The College reiterates calls for a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to reducing alcohol-related harm. As well as reducing availability and increasing price, other key measures include restricting marketing and sponsorship, improved enforcement of drink-driving, and providing equitable access to treatment services.

For more information, see our policy statement.

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