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ALAC says let’s get serious about teenage drinking

Media Release from ALAC
30 September 2002
For immediate release

ALAC says let’s get serious about teenage drinking problems

If we are really serious about teenage drinking problems then it will require some serious commitment, both from Government and community, says the Chairman of the Alcohol Advisory Council Professor Andrew Hornblow.

Professor Hornblow says there has been a groundswell of community interest in combating the problem of underage and binge drinking in recent weeks. I welcome the interest of Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton’s, and other Ministers, in exploring the issue and finding ways to deal with this challenging problem.

“ALAC supports raising the legal purchase age to 20 but we maintain our view that raising it will not on its own solve the major problems we are seeing with drunken 12 year olds and regularly bingeing 16 year olds,” Professor Hornblow says.

“We believe a commitment by Government and the community to a raft of strategies is needed if we are to have any impact on the problems we are seeing out there in the community. Changing the age of legal purchase of alcohol is only a small part of the solution.”

He says this would include financial commitment to advertising campaigns, law enforcement and a range of community-based campaigns and activities. “An excellent example of this is the drink-driving campaign where the Land Safety Transport Authority has been seen to get results. That’s because there was a significant commitment to a multi-pronged approach including advertising, education, enforcement and resources and it was run over a long period of time. We know that approaches like this do work.”

Professor Hornblow says turning the problem around isn’t impossible. “But it will take time and commitment.”

He says ALAC’s new five-year strategy focuses on young people along with Mäori and Pacific peoples as a major emphasis in turning around a culture of heavy and hazardous drinking in this country. “We made the decision to focus on young people because sadly, the adverse effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption are impacting mainly on those who are potentially our most productive citizens, our young people.”

It is tragic that an estimated 20.1 percent of all deaths in the 15-34 age group can be attributed to alcohol, Professor Hornblow says.

He says New Zealanders have a shared responsibility to achieve change and that ALAC is committed to working with the wider community to achieve this. “A first but major step would be for every adult in the country to stop and think about the impact of supplying alcohol to young people under the age of 18,” says Professor Hornblow.


Note to editors, sub-editor, reporters, producers: RE the correct name for the council.

The Alcohol Advisory Council or ALAC is the correct name for the organisation NOT the Alcoholic Liquor Advisory Council. The Council was established in 1976 under the latter title, but this was changed by an amendment to its legislation in 2000 to the Alcohol Advisory Council or ALAC.


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