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Anderton attacks vacuous reporting on drinking age

25th October 2006

Anderton attacks vacuous reporting on drinking age issue

“If I hear one more person say that raising the drinking age alone- will not solve all the problems of youth drinking in New Zealand I think I’ll take to drink myself," Jim Anderton Progressive Party Leader and Chair of the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy said today.

“Who in their right mind believes that? Name me one supporter of raising the purchasing age that says that?

"Certainly not me or Matt Robson, Deputy Leader of the Progressives, who introduced the bill to Parliament last year to raise the purchasing age back to 20.

"No public health researcher, clinician or official has ever said that raising the purchasing age will on its own stop the problem.

"What they do say is that lowering the age has worsened the problem of youth drinking in this country and raising it again will help. However, they want it as part of a whole package of measures, which includes stronger enforcement, better education and less alcohol advertising.

"And that package is being delivered - by this Labour-Progressive government.

"There is increased enforcement with Police carrying out many more controlled purchase operations than ever before. A Progressive budget bid in 2005 specifically funded more capacity for liquor licensing teams.

"On top of that there is a multi-million dollar advertising campaign promoting culture change around our drinking- many New Zealanders will have seen the ads on TV.

"Alcohol advertising is currently getting a through examination via a government review.

"So please let me say this loud and clear especially to every member of Parliament who is considering their vote on this bill – raising the purchase age is an important part of a package of measures that, public health proponents advocate based on evidence, which will make a difference to the problems associated with drinking in this country.

"Please heed their words and not those of vacuous commentators who continually belittle the important step of raising the purchasing age with words such as “It is naïve to think raising the drinking age would alone solve all alcohol-related problems”-that is the most naïve statement of all!”

ENDS

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