It has been the heaviest drinking quarter since new liquor laws implemented. Evidence suggests it’s time to increase the price of alcohol. New alcohol lobby group formed to protect rights of casual drinker.
Just ask Labour about the damage alcohol causes and the effect it has on peoples lives. The whole country has been in debate over the four young people whose lives have changed forever because of someone’s behaviour under the influence of alcohol.
To top that off, new figures show that more alcohol was available for consumption per person in the October-December quarter of 2017 than in any other quarter in the five years since the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act came into effect.
Annual per capita consumption has barely shifted since 2012 says Alcohol Health watch Executive Director Dr Nicki Jackson. “We have witnessed more people drinking hazardously in all age groups from 35 to 74 years, whilst adolescents are making positive changes by reducing their drinking. More than a third of hazardous drinkers are aged 35-54 years.”
This is the generation that is driving our economy, raising our children, and running our country.
“Evidence strongly suggests that to reverse these drinking trends and set New Zealand on a path where our potential is not hindered by our alcohol use, we need to increase the price of alcohol.”
Dr Jackson said alcohol prices have simply not kept pace with inflation. “The real price of wine is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1988. This is reflected in supermarket prices where bottles of wine can now be purchased for $5.99.”
Supermarkets have been under fire recently with their owners being labelled as ‘the biggest drug dealers in the country’ according to Alcohol Action NZ spokesman Doug Sellman who says, “We’re not viewing alcohol as it is—it’s a drug—and we’re making it very available.”
Big-name breweries, wineries and supermarkets are joining together to form a new lobby group aimed at promoting responsible alcohol consumption.
The New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council will lobby politicians not to make any changes to the availability and accessibility of alcohol.
According to Nick Leggett, the new chair of the lobby group, “Drinking is a ‘rite of passage’ for Kiwis.”
The battle lines have been drawn and public seem to be in favour of higher prices.
“February’s UMR polling data commissioned by Alcohol Health watch has shown strong public support for raising the price of alcohol. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of people polled supported increasing the price of alcohol to fund mental health and addiction services.
“Higher levels of support were found among NZ First voters (84 percent), 30-44-year-olds,people of Pacific ethnicity and those with lower incomes.
Dr Jackson believes the opportunity is ripe for leadership to create a healthier, fairer society.
“Raising the excise tax on alcohol is all about fairness; those who drink the most, pay the most. Around 20 percent of New Zealanders do not drink, yet they also pay the considerable cost of alcohol harm in our society.
“We hear urgent calls from our Emergency Department physicians for help with overflowing waiting rooms. By reducing alcohol consumption we could greatly reduce the burden on our hospital staff.
“Benefits further extend to better mental health,safer roads and communities, and more productive workplaces and economy.”
The Post Newspaper sent emails to a number of ministers whose ministries are heavily affected by alcohol asking for them to acknowledge the harm alcohol does and for them to take a stand and tax alcohol according to that harm. No response yet. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Since you’re here… we have a small favour to ask. More and more people want the Post than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Post’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. With investigative reporting, we often don't know at the beginning how a story will unfold and how long it might take to uncover. This can mean it is costly – particularly as we often face legal threats that attempt to stop our reporting. But we remain committed to raising important questions and exposing wrongdoing. And we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as NZ$5, you can support the Post – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Post