Media Release 4 July 2017
Family First NZ is applauding The Opportunities Party policy on raising the drinking age, which echoes previous calls by the NZ Medical Association to raise the drinking age.
“Health boards, health professionals, police, family groups, addiction experts, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, leading scientists, and the general public – including young people – have all been shouting to politicians to raise the drinking age to 20 in order to protect young people and to save lives,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The polls confirm that politicians have been out of touch with grassroots New Zealanders on this issue.”
“As argued in our 2011 report on this issue, alcohol policies and decisions about a legal drinking age should be firmly based on the health and well-being of New Zealand’s young people. New medical evidence on accident probability, disease and brain development, research on suicide and homicide, along with the Child and Youth Mortality Review make it absolutely clear that delaying the age at which teenagers and young people have easy access to alcohol would reduce the level of damage they and society suffer at the moment as well as contributing to their future health and well-being,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“We need to send an unambiguous message to young people and society about what is good for young people, and raising both the drinking and purchase age would make it easier for parents and the community to work together to prevent harm to our young people.”
The Vote Compass survey in 2014 showed that two out of three New Zealanders believe the drinking age should be raised. A nationwide poll by Curia Market Research, commissioned by Family First NZ in 2013, asked respondents “Do you think Parliament should have raised the drinking age to 20 or kept it at 18?” 62% of respondents said Parliament should have voted to raise the drinking age to 20. Only 32% agreed with the politicians that it should remain at 18, and 7% were unsure or refused to say.
A 2011 report commissioned by Family First examined the medical evidence and argued that the drinking age should be raised to 21. The report “YOUNG PEOPLE AND ALCOHOL: What Does the Medical Evidence Tell Us About the Legal Drinking Age in New Zealand?” was prepared by UK psychologist Dr Aric Sigman. Dr Sigman is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a recipient of the Chartered Scientist Award from the Science Council. He recently addressed the European Parliament Working Group on the Quality of Childhood in the European Union in Brussels, and has visited NZ in 2004, 2007 and last year.