Alcohol reforms labelled half-hearted

ONE News August 23, 2010

Community groups say the government’s alcohol reforms announced today will do nothing to curb binge drinking and the problems it causes in society. The government will introduce a graduated approach to purchasing alcohol – 18 years of age for on-licences and 20 years of age for off-licences. It will be an offence for anyone other than a parent or guardian to provide alcohol to an under-18-year-old without a parent or guardian’s consent. RTDs will be restricted to 5% alcohol content and will be limited to containers holding no more than 1.5 standard drinks. And the Minister of Justice, in consultation with the Minister of Health, will be able to ban alcohol products which are particularly appealing to minors or particularly dangerous to health.
“We Know Better”
Family First NZ said the government had adopted a “we know better” attitude to community concerns expressed on the issue of alcohol abuse in the community, and as a result the problems of domestic violence, child abuse, underage drinking and binge drinking would continue. “The government has tackled the festering sore of alcohol harm with a tickle, and in the process ignored the overwhelming voice of New Zealanders and groups representing families and communities who made submissions to the Law Commission,” said Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “The proposals announced today will only have a small effect, if any, on excessive consumption and underage drinking. “Polls over the last couple of years have shown that two thirds or more of New Zealanders want the drinking age raised to at least 20, instant fines for public drunkenness, on-license premises to close by 2am, and the legal blood-alcohol limit lowered to 50. “These opinions have been ignored. The government says they are listening – the question is to who?” The split drinking age sent a mixed message and also ignored the growing body of medical evidence regarding the harms of alcohol to teenagers and young people, he said.