Govt backs down on alcopop law changes

NZ Herald 23 August 2012
The Government has backed down on plans to restrict the sale and strength of “ready-to-drink” beverages and will let the liquor industry set its own rules for the sweetened alcoholic drinks. Industry giants lobbied Justice Minister Judith Collins to scrap proposed limits on the number of standard drinks and alcohol content in alcopops, which are highly popular with young drinkers. Yesterday, the minister said: “The Government has decided to give the alcohol industry the opportunity to introduce its own measures to limit the harm to young people caused by RTDs.” If the industry rules were ineffective, the Government would have regulation-making powers to limit the RTDs’ strength and places of sale. The news marks a significant retreat from the initial proposals for alcopops in the Alcohol Reform Bill, which could come before Parliament next Thursday. The Law Commission, in a report the reforms were based on, said RTDs were commonly used by binge drinkers, and were the drink of choice for 14- to 24-year-olds, especially women.