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Youth Parliamentarians Debate Alcohol Issues

Youth Parliamentarians Debate Alcohol Issues

The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) has congratulated the Youth Parliament for the depth of research they have undertaken to alcohol issues.

The youth version of Parliament’s social services select committee today reported on their deliberations on ‘how young people can best be supported to be safe with alcohol’.

ALAC appeared before the committee yesterday and ALAC Youth Action Plan Manager Sarah Helm said members of the committee raised most of the known solutions to alcohol harm.

“We were impressed at the complex understanding of the issues surrounding alcohol harm, and the need for multiple measures to address this harm. There was a determination to address the issue comprehensively, despite only having an hour to hear submissions.”

Questions raised by the young people ranged from the effects of increasing restrictions on advertising, minimum pricing, taxation, community action on alcohol, parental and social supply, targeted messages and social marketing.

“One of the issues we raised in our submission was the disproportionate amount of harm young people face from alcohol – not just because of some of their own drinking, but also as victims of alcohol-fuelled accidents and violence,” she said. “The young representatives understood this because they see alcohol harm every day.”

Increasing tax on alcohol, and putting an end to the sale of alcohol in supermarkets were two of Youth Parliament’s social services select committee recommendations to reduce the harm of alcohol.

Spokesperson for the committee Talia Ellison urged the Government to take action on alcohol. The committee’s recommendations included:

• Raising the tax on alcohol to curb consumption
• Prohibiting the sale of alcohol in supermarkets as a measure towards reducing 24-7 availability
• Reducing the blood alcohol count for drivers under 20 years of age to zero, and from 0.8 milligrams to 0.5 milligrams for those drivers over 20 years of age
• Social marketing campaigns that appeal to young people and their parents
• Peer-based education and leadership

They did not support raising the purchase age but reserved this as a last resort if other measures did not prove effective.

“We urge the Government to take action but not to take the easy way out by passing age-based legislation,” said Miss Ellison.

Youth Parliament is an opportunity for young New Zealanders to learn about New Zealand’s democracy and influence public decision-making. Young people from around New Zealand are chosen by their local (electorate or list) Member of Parliament (MP) to be a Youth Member of Parliament (Youth MP). During Youth Parliament, Youth MPs have the opportunity to debate legislation, sit on select committees and ask parliamentary questions of Cabinet Ministers.

ENDS

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