Hour’s work buys teens a week of booze

Dominion Post 6 Oct 2012
Young people can buy more than a week’s worth of booze for less than an hour’s wages.

As MPs prepare to debate a 50 per cent rise in alcohol excise, Dominion Post research shows pre-mixed, ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic cocktails are cheaper to buy than same-sized cans of soft drink.

For $10, youngsters can get their hands on 11 standard drinks’ worth of knock-down spirits at most bottle stores.

Bottles of wine can regularly be bought for  $7; a dozen beer,  $10; but the cheapest RTDs work out at as little as 47c per standard drink.

For just $11.98 – less than an hour’s work on the $13.50 minimum wage – a teen   can buy eight 330ml cans of pre-mixed whisky and cola and knock back more booze  than is recommended for an adult male in a week.

The dangers are clear, Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams says. “Our heaviest drinkers are our younger age groups . . . about half of the alcohol consumed in New Zealand is consumed in heavy-drinking situations.

“Price matters: You can buy a lot if you want to buy it . . . and get hammered.”

RTDs also served as a gateway to hard liquor, she said.

“We know that ready-to-drinks are linked with heavy-drinking behaviour and they’re popular with the young group.