23 August 2010

The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) welcomes the Government’s new policies to address the many problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption, but would have liked the Government to implement additional measures such as a tax increase on alcohol, says NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

“From a public health perspective, which has always guided our position on alcohol with excessive consumption linked to diseases of the nervous system, heart, liver and many other medical problems, we would have liked the Government to go further, particularly in respect of a tax increase on alcohol. International evidence shows that cheap alcohol especially leads to increased consumption.”

However the NZMA was pleased that the Government had supported measures such as a vote on a split drinking age.

“We acknowledge that the evidence supports age as a significant factor in the problems of inappropriate and excessive alcohol consumption. We support the split purchase age whereby people from the age of 18 can purchase alcohol at an on license premise but must be age 20 or over to purchase alcohol at an off license premise. We will be actively encouraging politicians to vote in favour of this measure,” says Dr Foley.

The NZMA supports Government plans to restrict trading hours for both on license and off license premises, stricter controls around liquor licensing, and the ban on pre-mixed RTDs with more than 5 per cent alcohol which have a particularly negative effect on youth drinking.