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Reduced Hours Of Sale Results In A Decline In Alcohol-related Assaults

New Zealand research published in the prestigious international journal Addiction today confirms the importance of reducing the hours during which alcohol can be purchased. The authors found an 11% reduction in the rate of people hospitalized for an alcohol-related assault following the reduction from 24 hour sales prior to 2013 to more restricted hours - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.15206

New Zealand is an unsafe country for many New Zealanders, both in public spaces as well as in private homes, because alcohol-related assaults are common.

“Lead author of the current paper, Professor Jennie Connor, has previously published research indicating there were 72,000 physical and sexual alcohol-related assaults each year in New Zealand, which is about 200 per day on average” said Prof Doug Sellman, medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ.

“This degree of drug induced violence has a major impact on the well-being of New Zealanders aand the well-being of the economy. It has been estimated that the social costs of alcohol amount to nearly $8 billion per year of which a substantial amount is related to alcohol-related assaults.”

“These findings reinforce what we know about alcohol availability contributing harm generally and that late night alcohol availability is particularly harmful” added Dr Tony Farrell, Chairperson of Alcohol Action NZ,

“Importantly the study shows that the harm can be reversed with straightforward measures that apply to the whole population, but only affect a minority of people. The majority of those people are heavy drinking young adults”.

The alcohol industry strongly lobbied the government during the major Law Commission review of the alcohol laws in 2009/2010, with the result that only a relatively minor reduction in hours of purchase was adopted in the new law (on-licence 8am – 4am, off-licence 7am – 11pm). Any significant reductions in hours through Local Alcohol Plans have largely been seen off by the alcohol industry tying Councils up in court when they dare to propose stronger regulation.

This study shows that a more robust reduction in hours of purchase produce a substantial reduction in alcohol-related assaults. Alcohol Action NZ advocates for the withdrawal of all alcohol sales from supermarkets and reduction of the hours of purchase of alcohol in other outlets to: 10am – 1am for on-licenses (cafes, bars and restaurants) and 10am to 10pm for off-licences (liquor stores).

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