15 October 2010

Research showing that some alcohol is now cheaper than bottled water, published in today’s New Zealand Medical Journal, is very concerning and backs the view that price rises are an essential part of addressing binge drinking, says the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA).

“We were disappointed when the Government ruled out raising excise tax on alcohol, as recommended by the Law Commission report. International evidence shows that cheap alcohol leads to increased consumption,” says NZMA Chair Dr Peter Foley.

“Today’s research states that controls on price are particularly effective in targeting heavy drinkers, and youth. It is alarming that the affordability of alcohol has actually improved in recent years, making it even more difficult to address excess alcohol consumption.”

Dr Foley called on the Government to reconsider its position on this issue.

“While we have welcomed some of the Government’s policies to address our alcohol problem, such as fines for those providing alcohol to under-18s without a guardian’s consent, the issue of price cannot be ignored. It is a core part of the solution to a problem that cannot be ignored.”

“The Government now has a chance to amend its proposed legislation to include increased excise tax on alcohol. We urge it to do so.”